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Numerous companies are working on consumer robots that can navigate their surroundings, recognize common objects, and perform simple chores without expert custom installation. Perhaps about the year 2020 the process will have produced the first broadly competent “universal robots” with lizard like minds that can be programmed for almost any routine chore. With anticipated increases in computing power, by 2030 second-generation robots with trainable mouse like minds may become possible. Besides application programs, these robots may host a suite of software “conditioning modules” that generate positive- and negative-reinforcement signals in predefined circumstances.

By 2040 computing power should make third-generation robots with monkey like minds possible. Such robots would learn from mental rehearsals in simulations that would model physical, cultural, and psychological factors. Physical properties would include shape, weight, strength, texture, and appearance of things and knowledge of how to handle them. Cultural aspects would include a thing’s name, value, proper location, and purpose. Psycho-logical factors, applied to humans and other robots, would include goals, beliefs, feelings, and preferences. The simulation would track external events and would tune its models to keep them faithful to reality. This should let a robot learn by imitation and afford it a kind of consciousness. By the middle of the 21st century, fourth-generation robots may exist with humanlike mental power able to abstract and generalize. Researchers hope that such machines will result from melding powerful reasoning programs to third-generation machines. Properly educated, fourth-generation robots are likely to become intellectually formidable.


Ø Centre for Al and Robotics (CAIR), Bangalore

CAIR can be described as a “think-tank” serving the Al and robotics needs of Indian Ministry of Defense. It is a component of the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). The centre offers its researchers time to pursue pure research in addition to working on specific project-related work.

Currently, basic and applied research at CAIR covers the following areas: Logic programming, knowledge- based systems, neural networks, robotics, vision, control systems and learning theory.

Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) was established in Oct 1986. Its research focus was initially in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (Al), Robotics, and Control systems. In November 2000, R&D groups working in the areas of Command Control Communication and Intelligence (C3I) systems, Communication and Networking, and Communication Secrecy in Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) were merged with CAIR. With this, CAIR has become the premier laboratory for R&D in different areas in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as applicable to Defence.

Ø Computer Vision

In the area of computer vision, CAIR has developed some prototype products for specific problem solving. Work is ongoing in the area of image registration using 2D, 1D and point features, progressive transmission and compression of images, content based image retrieval and multi-sensor image fusion. Research focus of CAIR in this area has been in registration of multi-sensor images, super-resolution image generation from low resolution images, automatic characterisation of image quality, and characterisation of shapes in grey scale and colour images.

Another important application that is being looked into is the build a mosaic of images taken from various angles. This is for the generation of panoramic and large scale image piecing together many small images seamlessly.

Ø   Robotics        

2AIR has developed a variety of controllers and manipulators for Gantry, SCARA and other types of robots. These were supplied to Public Sector Units such as HAL and sister DRDO labs. CAIR has gone on to develop a prototype Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) with the aim of attaining autonomous capability. This involved in-house construction of mobile robot platforms, integration of infrared sensors with the vehicle, and the development and integration of path planning software. A useful offshoot of this work was the development of an intelligent wheel- chair that would help physically challenged people both in hospitals and homes. One version of the wheelchair could be operated using human voice commands. Another was equipped with a camera system to get information about the surrounding space for its path planning.

Other robots developed by CAIR are for Non-destructive testing, Ammunition loading, and Hot slug manipulation. Both wheeled and legged miniature mobile robots have been developed.

A robot developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIX) at Kanpur is also proposed for Chandrayaan mission. Called “SmartNav” it’s a two-legged robot, fitted with sensors and high-resolution cameras, capable of recording information and images using laser beams.

India is emerging as a hub for production of industrial robots – many American, Korean and even Japanese firms are using them. But some companies are also developing consumer robots that can clean homes and keep an eye on intruders.

Ahmedabad-based Grid Bots had launched Robograd, a robot that can be used to clean homes and keep an eye on intruders.

Centre for Articial Intelligence and Robotics of DRDO in Bangalore has developed\ Chaturobot” with vision sensors which can pick up objects in its visual eld irrespective of its orientation

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has claimed that India will be the latest country to pursue technologies for developing a robotic army. Unlike South Korea’s planned army of killbots, the Indian program is pretty light on specifics so far, although we do know that the impetus for the project comes from the realization that “transnational actors and unconventional forces” pose a growing threat when compared to the risk of a traditional inter-state conflict.

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