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What Is Cognitive Robotics?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 02 September 2016
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Cognitive robotics is a branch of robotics that seeks to make robots with artificial intelligence (AI) that are able to think and revise their thinking, just like humans. Aside from being able to think, cognitive robotics works to make robots with motivation, so they want to learn or perform tasks. To gather information about the outside world, which can help them make decisions and assist with learning, the robots are intended to have senses like humans that allow them to perceive the world. Movement also is important to making these robots, so they can react to outside stimuli; this requires a complex robotic skeleton to work in conjunction with the sensors.

One of the most important aspects of cognitive robotics is the use of AI. This is a type of logic construct that allows robots to learn from incoming information, which also leads to decision-making, reasoning and other common aspects of human thought. Robots also must be able to revise their thinking, so they can erase mistakes and errors in judgment and replace them with new and correct information. To ensure that robots can hold all the new incoming information so the AI system can continue growing, they are given large hard drives or similar units.

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Along with thinking, the robots need motivation to act. This includes goals, aspirations and preferences. Without motivation, the robots may not be willing to collect new information, which will decrease how well these robots emulate humans. Motivation can be added in two ways. Cognitive robotics programmers may add it directly into the robots, or motivation may manifest from the AI system.

An AI system needs a constant stream of new information or the system has nothing to do and does not learn. To fulfill this, the cognitive robotics branch seeks to make robots that can perceive the outside world. This is typically done through sensors, and the robots receive basic information about touch, smell, sight, sounds and, perhaps, taste, though some systems omit taste, because they don't consider it a necessity.

To further emulate humans, cognitive robots are built with skeletons similar to a human skeleton. The skeleton has many joints so the robots can move. When outside stimuli affect the robots, such as passing a ball or sliding an object near the robots, their AI system collects information about the object such as where it is coming from and how fast it is moving. Like humans, these robots are made to react by catching the ball or looking at the sliding object.

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