MIT's bicep-watching robot.
MIT

Artificial Intelligence / Robots

This robot watches you flex to learn to be a better teammate

An MIT robot collaborates with a person by tracking his or her muscles.

May 22, 2019

Welcome to the “gun show,” robot.

Flex it: Researchers at MIT have created a robot that closely monitors your biceps as you lift and move things around. It isn’t just admiring your guns, though. The idea is to develop a system capable of collaborating with people more effectively.

Muscle monitor: The robot, dubbed RoboRaise, monitors a person’s muscles using attached electromyography sensors. Machine learning matches the signals picked up by those sensors with a representation of the arm movement a person is performing. The robot can then match that action.

Teamwork! Most workplace robots are so dumb and dangerous that they work in isolation from humans, but there is growing interest in having robots collaborate with human workers, using advances in sensors and computer algorithms to make them safer and smarter.

Watch carefully: It's a fascinating approach, and it shows how, in theory, robots might be able to pick up far more subtle cues about a person’s behavior. This might lead to machines that are better attuned to our actions and intentions.