Monday, January 28, 2013

I broke a what?!?!

I've busted a lot of stuff over the years - mostly the poorly constructed and therefore delicate projects I'd built, but also plenty of electronic components, hardware, circuit boards, etc. I've even broken and bent a few small tools.

But until yesterday I'd never snapped off half a pair of needlenose pliers so cleanly it looked like they'd been sawed apart. How's that even possible? (Sure, my finger strength is unparalleled, but I wield it gently. :)

I'd post a picture, but I can't be bothered to dig 'em out from under the pile of Robosapien discards clogging up the trash. Trust this random guy on the Internet, though - it really happened.

Maximum information, minimum post

I've been planning for a while to write up some research I worked on in 2011 involving intrinsic "motivation" for robots. We got a workshop paper out of it, and I presented the results to the ECE department last year. I also planned to extend it into my thesis project.

But... the lab went through some advisor round-robin and the project fell apart, and I just don't feel like writing it up into a full post anymore.

In a nutshell, our robot learned a policy for a partially observable Markov decision process (POMDP) to learn about objects in a space by manipulating them with its arm, then assigning object classification probabilities, with Shannon information gain across all objects as the learning reward.

Here's the AAAI workshop abstract, with a link to the full PDF:

Here's a fun picture of the robot!