Google Augments Helper Robot With Natural Language Understanding
Google’s experiments with household robots and conversational AI have collided to produce a new language model called PaLM-SayCan for parent company Alphabet’s Everyday Robots division. The new system activates natural language understanding for the robots so they can understand casual, goal-oriented language and break it down into the series of steps necessary to fulfill requests like fetching a drink or cleaning up a mess.
The model is named for its origin in the Pathways Language Model (PaLM), a large language model used to teach the AI its duties. Say and Can refer to how people can ask the robot to complete a task and its ability to work out whether it can do so and the best method for it. Everyday Robots began working on the helper machine in 2019. The PaLM-SayCan upgrade gifts the robot with natural language understanding broad enough to deconstruct a simple request into steps and devise a way how to carry them out successfully. Google’s researchers demonstrated how telling the robot that you spilled a drink and asking for help leads the robot to decide it should get a sponge from the kitchen to help wipe up the spill. The researchers tested 101 similarly casual instructions and the robots utilized the new model to deduce the correct steps to take in 84% of cases, albeit with 74% success.
“Our system can be seen as a dialog between the user and robot, facilitated by the language model. The user starts by giving an instruction that the language model turns into a sequence of steps for the robot to execute. This sequence is filtered using the robot’s skillset to determine the most feasible plan given its current state and environment,” the researchers explained. ” Our experiments on a number of real-world robotic tasks demonstrate the ability to plan and complete long-horizon, abstract, natural language instructions at a high success rate. We believe that PaLM-SayCan’s interpretability allows for safe real-world user interaction with robots.”
The limited success of the robots even under controlled test conditions suggests it will be a while before Google starts selling humanoid robots for household tasks. Instead of robot butlers, the current trend of AI and home robotics leans more toward a kind of utility pet. The Amazon Astro gives a puppyish vibe and can, at most, convey items placed on its back around its home. Although Amazon’s $1.7 billion purchase of iRobot might give Astro some vacuum features in the future. Most humanoid robots in use now are more to give a friendly shell to a device useful for elder healthcare or marketing. A robot for the home or the factory will need to instantly translate human requests to usable robotic tasks more complex than fetching a sponge.