September 27, 2023

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U.S. Engineers Design Autonomous Robot That Can Open Doors

Robots can do many things, but opening doors are kryptonite to robots as it is a big challenge. Engineers in UC’s Intelligent Robotics and Autonomous Systems Laboratory have solved this complex problem in three-dimensional digital simulations. Now they’re building an autonomous robot that not only can open its own doors but also can find the nearest electric wall outlet to recharge without human assistance.

This simple advance in independence represents a huge leap forward for helper robots that vacuum and disinfect office buildings, airports and hospitals. Helper robots are part of a $27 billion robotics industry, which includes manufacturing and automation.

Some researchers have addressed the problem by scanning an entire room to create a 3D digital model so the robot can locate a door. But that is a time-consuming custom solution that works only for the particular room that is scanned.

An autonomous door-opening operation is a complex task consisting of identifying the door and door handle, navigating the vehicle to the door, operating the door handle, and pulling or pushing the door to open while traversing the doorway. Doors also come in different colours and sizes with different handles that might be slightly higher or lower. Robots have to know how much force to use to open doors to overcome resistance. A self-closing door adds significant difficulty for the last step because the door usually needs to be held open while the vehicle is traversing the doorway.

Since the engineers are using machine learning, the robot has to “teach” itself how to open a door, essentially through trial and error. This can be time-consuming initially, but the robot corrects its mistakes as it goes. Simulations help the robot prepare for the actual task. The robot needs sufficient data or experience to help train it.

This is a big challenge for other robotic applications using Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based approaches for accomplishing real-world tasks. The challenge is how to transfer this learned control policy from simulation to reality. Digital simulations typically are only 60% to 70% successful in initial real-world applications.

Another study has ascertained that robots can open doors — if you try hard enough with machine learning. Researchers have to put in complex AI algorithms, and it would calculate millions of real-life simulations that a robot could undertake. Through this process, a robot could be trained to open doors after some rigorous trial-and-error. Sure enough, simulated robots could generally recognise most doors and open them with little difficulty.

U.S. researchers have been developing robots to perform many tasks, including robots that can be socially interactive and persuasive. As reported by OpenGov Asia, in the future, socially interactive robots could help seniors age in place or assist residents of long-term care facilities with their activities of daily living. However, people may not actually accept advice or instructions from a robot. A new study from the University of Toronto Engineering suggests that the answer hinges on how that robot behaves.

Generally, the robot was less persuasive when it was presented as an authority figure than when it was presented as a peer helper. This result might stem from a question of legitimacy. Social robots are not commonplace today, people lack both relationships and a sense of shared identity with robots. It might be hard for people to see robots as legitimate authority.

The big takeaway for designers of social robots is to position them as collaborative and peer-oriented, rather than dominant and authoritative. The research suggests that robots face additional barriers to successful persuasion than the ones that humans face. If robots are to take on these new roles in society, their designers will have to be mindful of that and find ways to create positive experiences through their behaviour.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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