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New system allows robots to map their environment

Boston, US: Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) developed a new system that allows robots to build and continuously update a three-dimensional map of their environment.

The new approach, based on a technique called Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), will allow robots to constantly update a map as they learn new information over time.

As the robot travels through an unexplored area, the Kinect sensor’s visible-light video camera and infrared depth sensor scan the surroundings, building up a 3-D model of the walls of the room and the objects within it. Then, when the robot passes through the same area again, the system compares the features of the new image it has created – including details such as the edges of walls, for example – with all the previous images it has taken until it finds a match.

The system is also expected to help blind people by allowing them to make their way unaided through crowded buildings such as hospitals and shopping malls.

However, this system cannot adjust to changes in the surroundings over time. Maurice Fallon, a research scientist at CSAIL said, “If you see objects that were not there previously, it is difficult for a robot to incorporate that into its map.”

Source: Space Daily