Children grow up fast. That’s why it is inalienable to provide them with a good education right from the beginning. It starts with kindergarten and ends with a high school diploma or college degree. But not only humans need education, also robots need to be fed with information. In some cases, it’s enough to program the robot with the right information. But some robots need to be provided with real education from humans in order to do their work. Since experts predict that robots will become more and more important for our everyday life, the harmonious cohabitation of robots and humans is an important issue. Facilities like the mechanical engineering department of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada set up some sort of kindergarten for robots to solve this problem.
Mechanical engineering professor and bos of the robo-kindergarten, Elizabeth Croft explains in an interview with Robohub what they are doing at UBC: “In a way, I like to think of our lab as robot kindergarten. We are teaching robots basic, building-block behaviours and ground rules for how they interact with people: how to hand over a bottle of water, how to look for things, how to take turns. Having these basic behaviours in place allows us to create human-robot interactions that are natural and fluid. To achieve our goals, our lab welcomes researchers from different disciplines - ethics, law, machine learning, experts in human computer interaction - as well as different international cultures. Different cultures have different ideas of robots. We learn a lot from these many perspectives”.While many robots need a proper education in order to function, Tinkerbots don’t have to attend kindergarten. Instead, you can teach them what to do on your own in no time. Just use the record and playback mode of the Powerbrain to provide the robot with some movements. Your Tinkerbot memorizes what you have just showed him and he repeats it. You can also control your Tinkerbot by using the app remote with your smartphone.