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Helping robots learn to deal with deformable objects

Narrator:       This is Science Today. The goal of the National Robotics Initiative is to explore how robots can enhance the work of humans rather than replacing them. Robotics expert Ken Goldberg of the University of California, Berkeley, is collaborating with colleagues from four other universities as part of this initiative, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. 

Goldberg:       The nice thing about the NSF is that it's not a rigid program. What we do is we put out a proposal where we all think about different aspects of the problem and in particular, we're interested in learning. So, that the theme of our work is trying to learn from demonstrations, from humans. The other is, for example, trying to cope with deformable materials. So, example is a suture thread or any kind of string or sheets or towels, those are also deformable, two-dimensional objects and then there are three-dimensional deformable objects like human organs or a sponge. So, that also hasn't been studied as much in robotics, so that'll be another focus of this work.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.