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Robots, Now Wielding Nunchucks

September 26, 2017

Don’t tell Elon Musk, but the machines are turning into ninjas. Researchers from the New Jersey Institute of Technology have demonstrated a new way to teach robots how to perform tasks, and demonstrated the technique's effectiveness by training one to use a pair of nunchucks.

Many robots now are able to watch a human's action and then repeat it, in a process known as learning from human demonstration. But the New Jersey team has taken that a step further. In a paper published in the arXiv, the researchers describe how human instructors can perform an operation and then evaluate their performance, giving the robot valuable extra data to understand what a good execution of the task looks like in order to hone their skills.

Clearly the approach works fairly well: in tests using a pair of nunchucks, the team taught a robot arm to deftly wield the weapons in under an hour. What could go wrong, eh?

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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