MacGyver is about to go robotic. A team of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology has been awarded a three-year, $900,000 grant to build a robot that can interact with its local environments as well as humans can. The grant was awarded by the Office of Naval Research.
Researchers chose the MacGyver name because the robot will hopefully be capable of using everyday objects to solve complex problems. The robot is even being trained to think quickly in dangerous situations while avoiding potentially deadly hazards.
According to Professor Mike Stilman:
“We aim to understand the basic cognitive processes that allow humans to take advantage of arbitrary objects in their environments as tools. We will achieve this by designing algorithms for robots that make tasks that are impossible for a robot alone possible for a robot with tools.”
Stilman is no stranger to advanced robots; his last project involved navigational robots that could move from one spot to another while moving obstacles out of the way as necessary.
The groups new algorithms will allow a robot to examine objects, determine how those objects can function, and then turn the objects into a simple machine.
While the robots could potentially be used for various reasons, the main objective at this time is to create a “robotic partner” that can assist members of the military in the field. For example, the robots could be used to patrol hostile areas. The robots could also potentially be used for civilian services that have yet to be discussed.