It seems every time a news story about robots appears, someone inevitably freaks out, screaming about Skynet or the Matrix. Well, this time, they might be right!

While it lacks the dexterity and sweetness of other robots, this one can not only assess and comprehend its surroundings but also learn through the Internet! (Oh, please keep it away from Wikipedia. It’ll conquer the world in a month.)

The Hasegawa Research Group at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed a robot that learns, thinks and acts on its own, using an artificial brain/algorithm. This neural network, called SOINN, or Self-Organizing Incremental Neural Network, allows the robot to search the Net for information, learn from its findings, and then apply the information to whatever task is at hand. Basically, it’s got the learning capacity of a person without having to worry about trivial stuff like sleep.

The research group’s new and improved robot, called HIRO, operates using SOINN and can complete such tasks as pouring water into a cup and, when asked for cold water, figure out what to do with an ice cube. While not exactly as terrifying as some Japanese robotics, it does have other alarming capacities. (Like, hypothetically, learning how to use throwing knives!!)

On top of this, the robot can take a look at its surroundings, figure out what all is there, what to do with everything, and what steps it doesn’t know. In the video below (Japanese only, sorry), the researchers give an example of tea. If someone should ask HIRO to make some tea and the robot doesn’t know how, it can go online and search the Net for information or other robots that do know. After downloading the necessary procedures, the robot can then proceed with making the tea.

If your brain is now full of images of murderous robots fulfilling nefarious commands, you can take comfort in knowing that at least HIRO doesn’t have legs. Yet. It’s only a matter of time until it learns to make a pair.

The Hasegawa Research Group produced this cute explanation of how SOINN learns.

▼It’s thinking and working hard!

▼Such cute hands that could easily crush the life out of a meddlesome human!


Start digging those bunkers, guys. The robot war can’t be far away…

Source: Karapia
Image: Karapia (top image), Hasegawa Research Group (second image), Designboom (third image and fourth image)