The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Robots need people, too

By Josh Tyrangiel

28 Sep 2023 · 4 min read

informed Summary

  1. Manuela Veloso, a renowned roboticist, introduced the concept of "symbiotic autonomy" in robotics, where robots ask humans for help when they encounter a problem they can't solve. This concept was implemented in her CoBots, robots that navigate Carnegie Mellon University's campus.

Manuela Veloso is one of the world's most renowned roboticists, artificial-intelligence researchers and hand talkers. Born and raised in Portugal, Veloso has spent most of the past 40 years lecturing to packed halls. When she's really feeling one of her greatest hits - the creation of her robot soccer team, the eternal mysteries of AI - she puts her whole body into it, like the Tina Turner of computer science.

Today, Veloso is telling a eureka story. In 2010, she and her fellow researchers were working on robots designed to navigate their way across the campus of Carnegie Mellon University. "Literally, there was always a problem," says Veloso. "A door would be closed. There was water on the floor. Stupid people would stand in front of the robot. I mean, it was just a nightmare."

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