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Scientists Devise 'Guessing' Robots Print E-mail

U.S. scientists have discovered robots able to make "educated guesses" are better predictors of their environment and are able to better navigate.

Purdue University engineers are developing robots that make such "educated guesses" about what lies ahead as they traverse unfamiliar surroundings, reducing the amount of time it takes to successfully navigate such environments.

A software algorithm enables the robots to make partial maps using a laser rangefinder and an odometer as they travel through an environment for the first time, the researchers said. The robots then refer to that partial map to predict what lies ahead.

The more repetitive the environment, the more accurate the prediction -- and the easier it is for the robot to successfully navigate -- said Professor C.S. George Lee, who specializes in robotics.

"For example, it's going to be easier to navigate a parking garage using this map because every floor is the same or very similar, and the same could be said for some office buildings," said Lee.

The research team -- which included doctoral student H. Jacky Chang, Assistant Professor Yung-Hsiang Lu and Associate Professor Y. Charlie Hu -- reported its findings in the April issue of the journal IEEE Transactions on Robotics. (c) UPI

 
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