Robot 101: Learning to work with humans

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With the advent of "inherently safe" robots, industrial designers are changing their ideas about the factory of the future. Robots such as ABB's Frida and the Baxter robot from MIT spinoff Rethink Robotics are working "elbow to elbow with people," says Julie Shah, an assistant professor in MIT's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and director of the MIT Interactive Robotics Group. "They're designed so that if they hit a person they don't significantly harm them." Working in the Interactive Robotics Group at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Shah is taking the next step: teaching these inherently safe robots how to work together in teams with people, and vice versa. "We're focused on robot learning, planning, and decision making, and how they interact with humans in high intensity and safety critical environments," Shah says.

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