One day, I will be telling my grandkids a long tale about how, when I was their age, I had to physically get up and go to the fridge to get a beer, and then, I'll probably elaborate with something like, “The fridge was uphill both ways!”
Students at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) created robots that cooperate with each other to form an on-demand beer-delivery system.
They appropriately named the bots “BeerBots.”
A user signals he or she's thirsty by pressing a button located on top of a “turtlebot,” a free-roaming beer-delivery robot traveling back and forth from one room to the next to take orders. When the turtlebot gets an order, it goes back to the larger “bartender” bot where a fresh beverage is placed in its cooler. It then delivers the drink and continues to roam until it gets another order.
OK, I admit this is a way better idea than my college beer-delivery system involving tying a rope around a mini-fridge on wheels.
While this robotic function may seem like a fairly easy task, it's actually surprisingly complicated.
Current University of New Hampshire professor and lead author of the project Chris Amato told MIT News,
Each robot's sensors get less-than-perfect information about the location and status of both themselves and the things around them. As for outcomes, a robot may drop items when trying to pick them up or take longer than expected to navigate. And, on top of that, robots often are not able to communicate with one another, either because of communication noise or because they are out of range.
Turns out, my “RopeFridge” may not have been a bad idea after all!
The BeerBots system was presented in July at the Robotics Science and Systems conference, and now, creators are using the algorithm to test out robots in search-and-rescue situations.
Frat boys of the future, your lives will now be slightly easier.