December 1, 2017
Realtime Robotics: James Kuffer, CTO Toyota Research Institute Blogs
Realtime Robotics Joins Toyota AI Ventures Portfolio
Visions of the future often feature robots. Whether working in factories, attending to humans, or piloting our cars, they compose a large part of our futurescape. While we imagine how robots could vastly improve our lives, a challenge roboticists inevitably come up against is: how do we build robots that can safely move in our complex world? The field of robot motion planning has emerged with the goal of addressing this challenge.
In a factory or laboratory environment that is “structured,” robot motions can be pre-programmed to avoid obstacles. In homes and offices, the environment is “unstructured” and full of previously unknown objects. Because of this, the robot must compute a safe motion plan online to avoid obstacles in real-time. This is a difficult problem, which can involve an enormous amount of computational resources. While human beings are able to quickly learn how to process and move through unstructured environments as young children, modern robots still face formidable, practical challenges in order to achieve safe, efficient motion planning.
That is why I am excited about Toyota AI Ventures’ recent investment in Realtime Robotics. I believe that the technology being developed by this Boston-based company could be game-changing for the field of robot motion planning. Founded by two Duke University professors, George Konidaris and Dan Sorin, Realtime Robotics focuses on speeding up the time a robot takes to make decisions on how to move through space. According to co-founders Kondaris and Sorin, their team has developed a specialized motion planning processor that enables robots to perform complex motion planning tasks up to 10,000 times faster than their predecessors, while using significantly less power .
What exactly does that mean for robots?