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Toyota says its new AI robot can master complex tasks in hours

Published Sep 21st, 2023 4:43PM EDT
AI robot
Image: phonlamaiphoto/Adobe

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Engineers working with Toyota, MIT, and Columbia Engineering have shown us just how crazy AI robot learning can be. In a new video, the Toyota Research Institute shows off how its AI robot was able to master complex tasks in a matter of hours, something that many previously thought impossible.

Learning that AI is progressing faster than we expected might trigger your fight-or-flight instincts. But, in this particular case, the robots aren’t learning how to destroy their human overlords. Instead, they’re learning how to do more complex tasks, like cutting vegetables, spreading peanut butter over a slice of bread, and even whisking eggs.

While these might seem like relatively mundane tasks, teaching an AI robot to do them autonomously is a thrilling development. As humans, we can quickly figure out how to carefully cut objects, or even how to spread jam or peanut butter over toast. But robots don’t have those instincts.

Instead, they have to be taught how to do these complex tasks repeatedly until they’re able to do them on their own. In this case, Toyota’s AI robot was able to complete several complex tasks after being shown how to do so by humans, and then running simulations for a few hours. Normally, this kind of progress can take days, weeks, or even months.

While many of the robots we’re seeing these days will be great for working in warehouses – unloading heavy crates and the like – if we want to progress beyond those robot brutes, we’re going to need AI robots capable of learning more quickly, and engineers at the Toyota Research Institute seem to have hit the nail on the head this time around.

It will be interesting to see how we end up making use of this kind of robot technology. Other companies have been working to train their AI systems using virtual reality. But, if Toyota can pull this off, other companies will undoubtedly follow suit, and we could see a much broader breakthrough in how these AI robots are trained going forward.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.