An international team of researchers have for the first time used game theory to enable robots to assist humans in a safe and versatile manner.
The research was jointly conducted by the University of Sussex, Imperial College London, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
As part of their study, the researchers used adaptive control and Nash equilibrium game theory to program a robot that can understand its human user’s behavior in order to anticipate their movements and respond to them.
The researchers believe the breakthrough could help robots complementing humans for sport training, physical rehabilitation or shared driving.
According to lead author Dr Yanan Li, “It is still very early days in the development of robots and at present, those that are used in a working capacity are not intuitive enough to work closely and safely with human users.”
“By enabling the robot to identify human users’ behavior and exploiting game theory to let the robot optimally react to them, we have developed a system where robots can work along humans as humans do.”
Game theory is commonly used to understand how economic agents decide and interact with each other in order to maximize their own gain.
To successfully apply game theory to the interaction of a robot and its human user, the researchers had to overcome the issue that the robot cannot know the human’s intentions.
The researchers thus had to develop a method enabling the robot to identify the human partner while safely and efficiently interacting with their motion.
The reactive robotic programming system enables a robot to continuously learn the human user’s control and adapt its own control correspondingly.
The robot was also able to understand the human user’s action and then respond to, and assist them to perform tasks successfully and with minimal effort.
Image and content: ABB YuMi/University of Sussex