Chinese scientists build factory robot that can read minds on the assembly line

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Researchers in China say they’ve developed an industrial robot that can read a human co-worker’s thoughts with 96% accuracy.

The robot not solely monitored the employee’s mind waves, but additionally collected electrical indicators from muscle tissues, because it labored seamlessly collectively to assemble a complex product, in accordance with its builders at China Three Gorges University’s Intelligent Manufacturing Innovation Technology Centre.

The co-worker didn’t must say or do something once they wanted a software or a element, as the robot would recognise the intention virtually immediately, selecting up the object and placing it on the workstation, in accordance with the builders.

“In modern industrial manufacturing, assembly work accounts for 45% of the total workload, and 20-30% of the total production cost,” challenge lead scientist Dong Yuanfa and his co-researchers stated in a paper printed in home peer-reviewed journal China Mechanical Engineering.

Collaborative robots, or “cobots”, may speed up the tempo of an assembly line, however their software remained restricted as a result of “their ability to recognise human intention is often inaccurate and unstable”, the paper stated.

Humans and robots or autonomous machines have been working collectively in factories for many years, however are separated by fences in most locations to keep away from accidents.

In current years, some superior manufacturing vegetation reminiscent of automotive factories in Germany have launched a fence-free work surroundings, with robots that swing into motion solely after a button is pressed. Such machines are outfitted with security sensors that cease them instantly if they arrive into bodily contact with people.

Some analysis groups have tried to build a brand new era of “cobots” that can guess human intention by monitoring eye or physique actions. However, these passive approaches suffered from issues like gradual response and poor accuracy.

To overcome this, the robot created by Dong’s staff was put by means of tons of of hours of coaching by eight volunteers.

The volunteers have been first requested to put on a non-invasive mind wave detector and the staff discovered the robot may estimate their intent with nearly 70% accuracy.

However, the mind sign was fairly weak. For the robot to get a transparent message, the volunteer would want to pay attention very exhausting on the work at hand. But most of them have been distracted by different ideas after working on the repetitive assembly job for some time, the researchers stated.

In distinction, the muscle indicators, collected by a number of sensors caught to an arm, have been extra steady. Even although these too waned as the volunteer grew drained, a mixture of each mind and muscle indicators may assist the robot estimate the employee’s subsequent transfer in a second with unprecedented accuracy, in accordance with the staff.

However, it was unclear whether or not these laboratory outcomes might be replicated in a real-life factory setting. The researchers couldn’t be reached for remark by the time of publication.

According to the paper, there can be some challenges to the software of the new know-how in an actual factory setting. Though the mind and muscle detectors might be positioned inside a employee’s cap and uniform, the high quality of information might be affected by sweat or irregular actions.

But these issues might be overcome by feeding the robot with movement and visible information, the researchers instructed.

This comes days after China introduced an bold plan to turn out to be a global innovation hub for robotics by 2025, as a part of its “smart manufacturing” objectives.

The variety of industrial robots in China has been rising at a tempo of 15% yearly since 2016, Wang Weiming, director of commercial gear with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, stated in Beijing on Tuesday.

There have been 246 robots for each 10,000 staff in China, or twice the world common, Wang stated, however the majority have been constructed with know-how developed in the West that generally couldn’t deal with the difficult environments in China.

Hence, China is in determined want of extra highly effective robotic know-how to beat issues reminiscent of a shrinking labour power amid sharply declining delivery charges, and rising labour prices. By 2025, greater than 70% of large-scale factories in China can be utilizing robots, he added.

Song Xiaogang, secretary normal of the China Robot Industry Alliance, stated the growth of cobots can be a precedence.

“There would be a leap from fence operation to robot-human collaboration,” he advised the similar press convention.

Some Chinese factories have requested staff to put on brain-reading helmets or use AI-controlled cameras to watch their facial expressions.

Though the objective was to detect fatigue, despair or different psychological indicators that may have an effect on work effectivity or security, critics have warned about privateness considerations.

In the United States, the use of robots has diminished industrial staff’ salaries, in accordance with a research by the American Economic Association in 2019. Some research by Chinese researchers in main financial zones reminiscent of the Pearl River Delta have discovered an identical phenomenon.

However, a research by Peking University researchers final month indicated that the mass software of robots in practically 300 cities from 2006 to 2016 had helped Chinese factories produce extra premium merchandise of upper high quality and elevated the nation’s world competitiveness as a complete. – South China Morning Post



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