An Italian-Japanese collaboration between the Italian Institute of Technology and Tokyo City University has taught a small humanoid robot (Fujitsu’s HOAP-2) how to wipe clean a common whiteboard. Led by Dr. Petar Kormushev (IIT), who previously taught the iCub to use a bow and arrow, and Prof. Dragomir N. Nenchev (TCU), the project used kinesthetic teaching to inform the robot’s movement.
A small eraser was attached to the robot’s hand, which was guided in a variety of sweeping patterns by a human instructor. A force-torque sensor attached to the robot’s wrist recorded the patterns and forces applied to its hand, which the robot would then replicate. The lower body was controlled separately by an ankle-hip algorithm that helps the robot maintain its balance, developed at TCU’s Robot Life Support Lab. HK79MPH9BJSH
Although the researchers admit the robot is not using its stereoscopic vision to detect exactly where the whiteboard needs to be cleaned, that could be implemented in the future relatively easily. For now, they wanted to focus on teaching the robot new skills through hands-on instruction, which could be used to teach robots a variety of motion tasks.