Unburdened by conventional human design expectations
October 3, 2023 - In a remarkable stride for artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, researchers at Northwestern University have successfully developed an AI that can autonomously design functional robots from scratch. Tasked with crafting a robot that can navigate a flat surface, this AI tool quickly exceeded conventional design expectations. In a matter of seconds, it produced a walking robot with an unconventional three-legged design, complemented by rear fins, presenting a model that deviates considerably from standard human-engineered concepts.
Sam Kriegman, the lead researcher and an assistant professor at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, elucidated the team's approach. “When presented with the objective of designing a land-walking robot, our AI instantly produced a blueprint. Astonishingly, this blueprint introduced a robot that doesn't resemble any naturally walking entity we know of.” He further emphasized the uniqueness of their AI algorithm, highlighting its efficiency and innovative capacity. Unlike other AI models that require vast computational resources and often replicate pre-existing human designs, this AI, even when operating on a simple personal computer, is capable of generating entirely new structural concepts.
The significance of this advancement extends beyond just the speed and innovation of design. This AI system represents a departure from traditional design methodologies, where designs tend to mirror familiar, previously-seen structures. It paves the way for a new breed of AI-driven design thinking, untethered by existing paradigms and open to vast possibilities.
Envisioning the practical applications of their work, Kriegman sees a future where robots, shaped by this AI’s blueprints, perform critical tasks. From navigating the debris of collapsed buildings in search-and-rescue missions to maintaining intricate sewer systems, the applications seem boundless. More ambitiously, there could be nanobots, designed by this AI, that venture within the human body, circulating in the bloodstream to unclog arteries, diagnose ailments, or target and neutralize cancer cells.
Kriegman concludes with an optimistic outlook, stating, “While our current understanding might limit us from creating such revolutionary tools, it's exhilarating to think our AI may already harbor solutions we haven't even imagined.” The detailed research, aptly titled “Efficient automatic design of robots,” has garnered the support of several notable institutions and will soon find its place in the esteemed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Webdesk AI News : AI Creativity in Designing New Robots, October 3, 2023