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OK Google, bring me a Coke: AI giant demonstrates soda-seeking robots

OK Google, bring me a Coke: AI giant demonstrates soda-seeking robots
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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., August 16 (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL.O) Google is combining the eyes and arms of physical robots with the knowledge and conversation skills of virtual chatbots to help its employees search for soda and chips in break rooms with ease.

The mechanical waiters, shown in action to reporters last week, embody a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that paves the way for multipurpose robots as easy to control as those that perform single, structured tasks like vacuuming or standing guard. .

Google robots are not ready for sale. They perform only a few dozen simple actions, and the company hasn’t yet integrated them with the “OK, Google” summoning function familiar to consumers.

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While Google says it’s pursuing development responsibly, adoption could ultimately stall due to concerns such as bots becoming surveillance machines or being equipped with chat technology that can deliver offensive responses, such as Meta Platforms Inc. (META.O) and others have experienced in recent years.

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT.O) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN.O) are conducting comparable research on robots.

“It will take a while before we can get a firm sense of the direct business impact,” said Vincent Vanhoucke, Google’s senior director of robotics research.

When asked to help clean up a spill, Googlebot recognizes that grabbing a sponge is a more sensible and feasible response than apologizing for creating the mess.

The robots interpret spoken commands naturally, weigh possible actions against their capabilities, and plan smaller steps to accomplish the request.

The chain is made possible by infusing robots with language technology that draws understanding of the world from Wikipedia, social media, and other web pages. Similar AI underlies chatbots, or virtual assistants, but hasn’t been applied to robots as widely before, Google said.

He unveiled the effort in a research paper in April. The addition of more sophisticated language AI has since boosted the robots’ success on commands from 61% to 74%, according to a company blog post on Tuesday.

Alphabet subsidiary Everyday Robots designs the robots, which for now will be limited to grabbing snacks for employees.

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Information from Paresh Dave; Edited by Kenneth Li and Richard Chang

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Paresh Dave

Thomson Reuters

Technology reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area who covers Google and the rest of Alphabet Inc. He joined Reuters in 2017 after four years at the Los Angeles Times focused on the local tech industry.

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