Stumble-proof robot adapts to challenging terrain in real time

Robot places

The robots are learning! While humans are naturally adept at adjusting to new terrain, robots struggle. Machine learning helped train these bots to be more sure-footed.
From Tech Crunch:

Robots have a hard time improvising, and encountering an unusual surface or obstacle usually means an abrupt stop or hard fall. But researchers at Facebook AI have created a new model for robotic locomotion that adapts in real time to any terrain it encounters, changing its gait on the fly to keep trucking when it hits sand, rocks, stairs, and other sudden changes.

The system was trained entirely in simulation, in a virtual version of the real world where the robot’s small brain (everything runs locally on the on-board limited compute unit) learned to maximize forward motion with minimum energy and avoid falling by immediately observing and responding to data coming in from its (virtual) joints, accelerometers, and other physical sensors.

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