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Now, a robot that can read and learn like a human!

December 7, 2010 - Washington

UK scientists have developed a robot that can read and learn in the real world like a human.

Marge creators, Ingmar Posner and Paul Newman at the University of Oxford, along with their collaborator Peter Corke at Queensland University of Technology, hope that Marge, and future versions of Marge, could navigate through the real world using the same words and phrases that humans use.

"Text spotting is hard because text is a such a variable thing," the Discovery News quoted Newman as saying.

"It appears in so many guises in so many places, in so many sizes, and of course the real world is full of reflections, occlusions, etc."

The Oxford scientists installed text recognition software (technically called Optical Character Recognition, or OCR), complete with spell-checker and dictionary, onto Marge, a small robot on wheels.

By using a few new tricks to separate text from, say, sticks or trash, and correcting the image based on a simple spell-check and the word's meaning in the dictionary, Marge can bridge the gap in intuition.

That means she can read newspapers like The New York Times and learn about banks like Barclays and that restaurants like Strada are good places to eat.

The Oxford group already has newer version of Marge, dubbed Lisa, that they are also testing.

Since Marge's intelligence comes from software, not hardware, that means that it could be used in devices besides robots as well, said Gregory Dudek, a scientist at the Centre for Intelligent Machines at McGill University.


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