The advancement in technology is the fastest revolution ever held in the entire human history.
AI is a major part of this revolution and will be more in the future. Artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes called machine learning, is the intelligence demonstrated by machines, unlike the natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals.
The term “Artificial intelligence” is often used to describe machines or computers that mimic “cognitive functions” that humans associated with the human mind, such as learning and problem-solving.
Modern machine’s capabilities generally classified as AI include successfully understanding human speech, competing at the highest level in a strategic game system such as chess, autonomously operating cars, intelligent routing in content delivery networks and military simulations.
In this section, we report on a few application scenarios, where the research on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics has been developed in Italy.
RoboCup started its activity about ten years ago by taking soccer games (football for Europeans), as a scientific testbed for the research in AI and Robotics.
Italian researchers gave a significant contribution to RoboCup over the years, both at the organization level and in terms of participating teams. RoboCup 2003 was held in Padova, and it attracted more than a thousand participants from all over the world.
Below we focus on the leagues, where Italian participation has been more relevant. The Middle-Size league is played within a 5×9 meters field by 4 wheeled robots per team and the body of the robot must be within a cylinder of 50 cm diameter and 80cm height.
All sensing devices must be onboard the robots, in particular global vision as well as other external sensing devices that are not available.
The Italian participation in RoboCup was boosted by the creation of a national team, called ART (Azzurra Robot Team), formed by several universities and the Consortia Padova Ricerche.
ART obtained 2nd place in 1999 and subsequently it was split into several local teams: Golem, Artistic Veneti, and MilanRoboCup team.
Besides soccer, RoboCup promotes other leagues, aiming at the transfer of the research results in socially and industrially relevant contexts.
Specifically, RoboCup Rescue aims at the design of systems to search and rescue for large scale disasters.
Here we focus on the rescue robot league, which aims at the design of robots searching victims in an unknown environment representing a disaster scenario.
This kind of application brings in scientific challenges, related to the uncertainty about the environment, that are not present in the soccer leagues.
The experimental setup, called arena, is being developed in close cooperation with USAR 2. The arenas have already been used in various experiments (including RoboCup and AAAI rescue completions) and nowadays represent a reference for experimental evaluation of the performance of rescue robots. The current aim of the competition is twofold: mobility and autonomy.
As for the former, the researches focussed on the mechanical design that allows the robot to overcome the obstacles, present in the environment; the latter is concerned with the design of robots that can continously explore the environment, possibly working for in team, build the map, find the victims and locate them in the map.
The aim of the project An Intelligent System for the Supervision of Autonomous Robots in Space, funded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) during years 1997-2000, is the application of AI techniques to the design and realization of space robotics systems for planetary exploration missions, that require an increasing autonomy.
In particular, the aim of this project has been the application of AI techniques to the design and realization of an effective and flexible system for the supervision of the ASI robotic arm SPIDER.
The project was coordinated by the unit at the University of Palermo. Subproject units were the Universities of Roma “La Sapienza”, Torino, Genova, Parma, and the research centres ISTC-CNR Roma and IRST-ITC Trento.
The scientific objective of the project is the design and development of an intelligent system able to supervise au tenuous robots in space. The system is based on the multivalent architecture in which each block is a software agent interface with the rest of the system.
This design choice is motivated by high flexibility, agent interchangeability with the consequent easy improvement of the architecture, reuse of all the agents or part of them, or of the architecture itself.
The architecture has been designed by keeping in mind the ASI missions, but it is fully general and the single modules and the whole architecture may be easily reconfigured for the supervision of other robotic systems.
The project aimed at realizing an innovative research product, and it is complementary to ASI activities.
Here’s a closer look at how robotics is impacting lives on a day-to-day basis:
Benefits for businesses: When a product is manufactured with precision and high repeatability every time, repairs are few and far between. And since robotic mechanisms are so accurate, the amount of raw material usage can be reduced, which helps in decreasing costs related to waste.
Benefits for healthcare: Several robots have been developed to aid with hospital staff for triage and janitorial services. Many more are in development to work both inside and outside healthcare facilities.
Benefits for the handicapped: Mobile robotics is being used to help people with injuries or with disabilities who find it hard to navigate in many environments.
Resources: Robotics engineers are responsible for designing robots, maintaining them, developing new applications and conducting research to ensure robots are reaching their highest potential, which can be really expensive.
Unemployment concerns: Some industries are replacing human workers in specific roles with robots, reducing healthcare and insurance costs which cause unemployment.
Predefined programming: Robotics is completely programmed. In other words, robots do exactly what they are designed for, but they cannot improve the results of their jobs outside that predefined programming.
Rigidity: Robots cannot respond to danger the way humans do.
Since they do not guarantee results, implementing a production plan from beginning to the end is crucial.