MIT shows off trio of robots that work together to deliver meds and drinks

One of the places that robots will eventually find themselves working is in the medical setting. There are shortages of qualified medical professionals around the world and that shortage leaves staff overworked at times. MIT researchers are showing off three robots that are designed to work closely together to get tasks done ranging from delivering medications to getting people drinks when they need them.

The MIT researchers showed off their robotic trio at the Robotics Science and Systems conference and the team says that its models could be extended to other applications in the hospital, disaster situations, and in bars or restaurants. To show how the system would work researchers from the CSAIL at MIT converted their lab into a bar.

The bartender was a large PR2 robot and there were a pair of four wheeled Turtlebots that went into offices and asked humans for their drink orders. The Turtlebots then used programming to determine which orders were required in different rooms and when other robots might have delivered drinks already to make the process as efficient as possible.

The MIT team says that the biggest challenge in getting robots to work together in the human world is for them to be able to deal with three kinds of uncertainty with relation to sensors, outcomes, and communications. To allow the robots to deal with these situations, the team developed the first planning approach that is able to offer robots optimized solutions for all three types of uncertainty.