PR2 Fetches a Sandwich
I thought this vid was pretty amusing:
According to IEEE Spectrum, what seems to be an overly high-tech, time-consuming way to snag some lunch, is an example of “semantic search.”
“Semantic search” is simply the ability to make inferences about an object based on what is known about similar objects and the environment. It sounds complicated, but it’s really just a computerized version of what we humans think of as “common sense.” For example, if someone asks you to bring them a cup without telling you exactly where the cup is, you’re probably clever enough to infer that cups can be found in drawers or cabinets or dishwashers, and that drawers and cabinets and dishwashers are all usually located in a kitchen, so you can go to the kitchen, poke around for a little bit, and find a cup. Semantic search allows robots to do the same sort of thing.
So PR2 didn’t exactly “know” where to find the sandwich, but was able to figure it out by consulting info in its database, and then searching the areas where a sandwich was likely to be.