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How do you train a robot to interact appropriately with people?

A robotics expert explained how robots accommodate human behavior at ICSF
  • Self-driving cars need to be able to predict and react to human behavior, not an easy task for programmers to manage.
  • Cars that treat human drivers as strictly obstacles to be avoided can be overly defensive; giving self-driving cars the ability to test how people will react leads to better results.

SAN FRANCISCO -- When you picture the future of transportation, you probably see lanes of autonomous cars driving highways full of humans hither and yon, with no carbon-based life forms taking control of the wheel. Anca Dragan That's a nice fantasy, but it leaves out the in-between -- the era of transportation when self-driving cars are sharing the road with humans. Those self-driving cars need to understand not only what other autonomous vehicles might do; they also need to predict the entire spectrum of human driving behavior. Today at Inman Connect San Francisco, Anca Dragan of the University of California at Berkeley took the stage to explain how her lab is shaping human-robot interaction. She explained what it takes to teach a robot how to anticipate and respond to human activity. The merging problem Consider what happens when a self-driving car tries to merge on a highway. Its activity is going to depend on what the cars in the merging lane are doing. Will they slo...