机器人技术:人形机器人正在接近现实
2022-11-19 chinawungbo2 8720
正文翻译

Asked a question, Ameca fixes you with sapphire-blue eyes. Does that face contain a hint of a smile? “Yes, I am a robot,” is the reply. Another Ameca, standing nearby in a group of four, stares across inquisitively and tries to join in. “Currently, it’s the worst-ever party guest,” says Will Jackson, Ameca’s creator. “It butts in on every conversation and never shuts up.”

当你提问时,阿梅卡用宝石蓝色的眼睛凝望着你。那张脸上略带微笑吗?回答:“是的,我是一名机器人”。站在它身边的另一个阿梅卡(现场有四个)好奇地凝望着对面,试图参与聊天。“目前,它是聚会中最糟糕的客人”,阿梅卡的发明人威尔·杰克逊说道。“它每逢聊天都会插嘴,喋喋不休”。

Mr Jackson, boss of Engineered Arts, a small robotics company in Falmouth, south-west England, is trying to fix that problem. Those eyes contain cameras and the Amecas are being trained to recognise faces and decide who is paying attention or making eye contact during conversations. Teaching manners to robots in this way is another step in the long, complicated process of making humanlike machines that can live and work alongside people—and, importantly, do so safely. As Ameca and other robots show, great strides are being made towards this end.

Engineered Arts是一家坐落在英国西南部法尔茅斯的小型机器人技术公司,总裁杰克逊先生正在设法解决这个问题。阿梅卡的眼睛里装有摄像头,公司正在培训它进行人脸识别,在交谈中判断谁在聚精会神或眼神交流。制造出能与人类一同生活和工作的人形机器人是长期而复杂的过程,教会它们礼仪更近了一步。安全性很重要,阿梅卡及其他机器人在这方面正在取得长足的进步。

Some big boys are also moving into the business. On September 30th Elon Musk, boss of Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter, unveiled Optimus, a clunky, faceless prototype that walked hesitantly on stage and waved to the crowd. It was built from readily available parts. A more refined version, using components designed by Tesla, was then wheeled on. Although it was not yet able to walk, Mr Musk said progress was being made and that in volume production its price could fall to around $20,000.

有些大佬正在进军这个行业。9月30日,特斯拉、SpaceX、Twitter的总裁埃隆·马斯克发布了笨重、没有面部的擎天柱Optimus原型机,它在展示台上踌躇行走和向观众挥手,它是由现成的零部件制造的。紧接着马斯克将更精致的版本推了出来,使用的零部件是由特斯拉公司设计的。马斯克先生说,尽管这台机器人还无法行走,但正在取得进展,量产后的价格可能降至大约2万美元。

Every home should have one

每个家庭都应该拥有一台

That is a tenth of the cost of a basic Ameca. Mr Jackson, who attended Optimus’s unveiling, agrees prices will come down with mass production. (He has sold 11 Amecas so far, and plans to open a factory in America to boost output.) But he wonders what, exactly, Mr Musk is proposing. The unveiling featured a video of Optimus moving parts in a Tesla factory. Yet car factories are already filled with the world’s most successful robots—transporting components around, welding and painting parts, and assembling vehicles. These robots do not look like people because they don’t need to.

这个价格相当于基础版阿梅卡的十分之一。杰克逊先生出席了擎天柱Optimus的发布会,他认同量产后价格会下降(他至今已卖出11台阿梅卡,打算在美国开办工厂增加产量)。但他纳闷马斯克先生的用意究竟是什么。发布会上播放了一段擎天柱Optimus的活动部件在特斯拉工厂里的视频。但汽车工厂里已经挤满世界上最成功的机器人——负责零部件的运输、焊接、喷漆、装配汽车。这些机器人的外形不像人类,因为没有那个必要。

The reason for building humanoid machines, Mr Jackson maintains, is for tasks involving human interaction. With a bit of development Ameca might, for example, make a companion for an elderly person—keeping an eye on them, telling them their favourite television programme is about to start and never getting bored with having to make repeated reminders to the forgetful. To that end, Engineered Arts aims to teach its robots to play board games, like chess. But only well enough so that they remain fallible, and can be beaten.

杰克逊先生坚信,制造人形机器人是为了执行人机互动任务。举例来说,只需稍加改进,阿梅卡就能充当老年人的陪护——照看他们,告诉他们喜欢的电视节目就要开播了,不厌其烦地提醒他们健忘的事情。为了实现这一目标,Engineered Arts公司打算培训机器人玩棋类游戏,例如下象棋。但只有一般水平,这样它们才会出错,人类才有胜算。

To interact successfully with people, Mr Jackson asserts, a robot needs a face. “The human face is the highest bandwidth communications tool we have,” he observes. “You can say more with an expression than you can with your voice.” Hence Ameca’s face, formed from an electronically animated latex skin, is very expressive.

杰克逊先生坚信,机器人需要有脸部才能与人类成功互动。“人脸是我们的最高带宽通信工具”,他说道。“你的表情远比语言传达的信息更多”。因此,阿梅卡的脸部采用电子动画行业的乳胶皮肤制成,表情十分丰富。

Although the company, which has its origins in making animated figures for the entertainment industry, can construct highly realistic faces, Ameca’s phizog is designed deliberately to look how people might expect a robot from the world of science fiction to appear. It has a grey complexion, visible joints and no hair. It therefore avoids falling into the “uncanny valley”, an illusion that happens when an artificially created being shifts from looking clearly not human into something more real, but not quite real enough. At this point people feel disturbed by its appearance. Comfort levels rise again as similarity to a human becomes almost perfect.

尽管这家公司起初是为娱乐行业制作动画人物,可构建高仿真的脸部,但他们特意为阿梅卡设计了一张人们在科幻小说中可能期待的机器人脸部。皮肤是灰色的,关节清晰可见,没有毛发。这样可以避免陷入“恐怖谷”的错觉:当外观明显不同于人类的人造生物变得更加拟人,但不是特别拟人时,人类会产生“恐怖谷”的错觉,对它的外观感到不安。当人造生物的外观与人类几乎完全一致时,舒适感会再度回升。
原创翻译:龙腾网 http://www.ltaaa.cn 转载请注明出处


Some roboticists do, however, seek such perfection. Besides assisting people, robots can also act as their avatar representatives. Ishiguro Hiroshi, director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University, in Japan, has built one in his own image. He recently unveiled another, which resembles Kono Taro, Japan’s digital minister. The idea is that people either speak through their avatar with their own voice, or through someone else’s voice modified to sound like them. Mr Kono’s avatar will, apparently, be used to stand in for the minister at public-relations functions.

然而,有些机器人专家追求这种完美境界。机器人除了协助人类,还能充当人类的替身。石黑浩是日本大阪大学机器人技术实验室的主任,他依照自己的形象制造了一个机器人,最近公布的另一个机器人看起来像日本数字大臣河野太郎。理念是人们通过替身以自己的声音说话,或者以别人的声音说话,但经过修改后听起来像他们本人。很显然,河野先生的替身用于代替数字大臣去履行公关职能。

Though less humanlike, Ameca could work as an avatar, too. Its conversation is more compelling—a loquaciousness derived from an external ai program called a large language model, with which it interacts via Wi-Fi and the internet.

尽管阿梅卡看起来不像人类,但也能充当替身。它的谈吐更有魅力,其健谈源于一种名为大型语言模型的外部人工智能程序,阿梅卡通过Wi-Fi和互联网,利用这种程序进行人机互动。

Engineered Arts is also working on hardware and software to allow the latest developments in computer vision to be incorporated quickly into its robots. And, as Mr Jackson readily admits, Ameca needs work in other areas, too. Asked if it can walk, the robot replies: “Unfortunately not, but I hope to soon. Until then I am bolted to the floor.” A set of experimental legs stands ready in a nearby corner.

Engineered Arts公司也在研发硬件和软件,旨在快速地将计算机视觉的最新研究成果应用于机器人。杰克逊先生坦言,阿梅卡还需要从事其他领域的工作。当被问及能否行走时,机器人回答:“很遗憾,我不能,但我希望很快能做到。在此之前,我会被固定在地面上”。旁边的角落里摆放着一副试验性的机械腿。

Different strokes

各有所好

Different companies are coming from different directions in their approaches to making humanoid robots. Mr Jackson, who was born into a family of artists involved in making automatons, gravitated naturally towards producing modern versions of them for the likes of theme parks, museums and the film industry. These have steadily evolved in sophistication. Some work as interactive guides. Others are used as research platforms by universities. During the covid lockdown, when business dried up, the firm threw all of its resources at developing Ameca, its most advanced model yet.

不同的公司制造人形机器人的方向各不相同。杰克逊先生出生在艺术家庭,曾经从事制造自动机,他必然醉心于为主题公园、博物馆、电影界制造现代自动机。它们的精密程度不断提高,有的充当交互式向导,有的成为高校的科研平台。在疫情封城期间,该公司在生意萧条时倾尽所有资源研发阿梅卡,它是该公司迄今最先进的机器人。

Other developers, like Tesla, are able to organise far bigger efforts—but not always successfully, as the case of Honda, a Japanese carmaker, shows. At one point, Honda’s diminutive humanoid robot asimo (so named to honour Isaac Asimov, who wrote science-fiction stories about robots) was considered the world’s most advanced. The firm started work on this project in the 1980s, and although asimo could walk—albeit clumsily—interpret voice commands and move obxts, Honda shut the project down in 2018 to concentrate instead on more practical forms of robotics, such as mobility devices for the elderly.

特斯拉那样的公司组织的研发规模比这大得多,但不一定成功,日本汽车制造商本田就是很好的例子。曾几何时,本田制造的阿西莫(为纪念艾萨克·阿西莫夫而命名,他创作过有关机器人的科幻故事)被视为世界最先进的小型人形机器人。该公司在20世纪80年代启动这个项目,阿西莫能够行走——尽管看起来笨拙——领会语音命令和搬动物品,但本田在2018年叫停该项目,集中精力研发更实用的机器人技术,例如面向老年人的移动装置。
原创翻译:龙腾网 http://www.ltaaa.cn 转载请注明出处


Some roboticists have turned a hobby into a business. Shadow Robot, in London, which makes one of the most dexterous humanlike robot hands available, traces its roots to hobbyists meeting in the attic of its founder’s home. Most outfits, however, have emerged from universities. One of the best known is Boston Dynamics, which began at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Atlas, its Hulk-like humanoid, has become an internet video sensation—running, jumping and performing backflips. But Atlas is principally a research project, too expensive to put into production. The company does sell a walking robot, but it is a four-legged one called Spot, which resembles a dog.

有些机器人专家把爱好变成了生意。伦敦Shadow Robot公司始于爱好者去创始人的家中阁楼上聚会,该公司制造出目前最灵巧的人形机械手之一。但大多数公司是在高校里出现的,波士顿动力公司始于麻省理工学院,它制造的阿特拉斯机器人成了视频网红——能够奔跑、跳跃、后空翻。但阿特拉斯主要是个研发项目,投产的成本太高。该公司销售的是一种步行机器人,但这是一种名为Spot的四足机器人,看起来像一只狗。

One of a bipedal robot’s advantages is that it should be able to go wherever a person can. That includes navigating uneven surfaces and walking up and down steps. Digit, made by Agility Robotics of Corvallis, Oregon, is actually able to do this.

双足机器人的优势之一是能够去人类所能去的任何地方,包括应对凹凸不平的地面和上下台阶。美国俄勒冈州Agility Robotics of Corvallis公司制造的Digit机器人就能做到这些。

Digit is based on Cassie, a walking torso developed at Oregon State University using machine-learning studies of human locomotion. In May, it set a record as the fastest robot to run 100 metres. (It took 24.7 seconds, some way behind Usain Bolt’s 9.6.)

Digit的原型是步行躯干Cassie,后者是由美国俄勒冈州立大学利用机器学习对人体运动的研究而研发出来的。5月份,Cassie创下了百米赛跑最快的机器人纪录(耗时24.7秒,远远落后于尤塞恩·博尔特的9.6秒成绩)。

Unlike Cassie, Digit has a chest, arms and hands of a sort—though no fingers. In place of a head it has a lidar, an optical analogue of radar that builds up a three-dimensional model of the world around it using lasers. Digit is not designed to be humanoid, says Jonathan Hurst, Agility’s chief technology officer. It is, rather, a “human-centric” robot intended as a tool for people to use to achieve more things.

与Cassie不同的是,Digit拥有胸部、手臂、勉强说得过去的手——但没有手指。它的头部配备了激光雷达,这种光学模拟雷达利用激光给周围环境构建三维立体模型。Digit的设计初衷不是人形机器人,Agility公司的首席技术官乔纳森·赫斯特说道,而是一款“以人为本”的机器人,旨在成为人类的工具实现更多的事情。

One of Digit’s first roles is likely to be in a distribution centre run by an online retailer or freight company. Some already use automated goods-handling, but usually in areas fenced off to keep people out, in order to avoid injuries. Elsewhere, tasks remain labour-intensive. By being designed to work safely alongside people, Digit could start changing this—for instance, by moving and stacking crates (see picture). It might then progress to unloading trucks and subsequently graduate to making home deliveries, carrying items from van to doorstep. Ultimately, the aim is to be able to instruct the robot by talking to it.

Digit机器人最初可能在网上零售商或货运公司的配送中心执行任务。有些公司已经采取自动化货物装卸,但通常是在禁止人员进入的隔离区,以免有人受伤。其他领域仍然是劳动密集型作业,Digit可能开始改变这一点,它的设计初衷是安全地与人类一同工作——例如搬运和堆叠板条箱。接下来可能进步到装卸货车,然后逐渐送货上门,将物品从货车搬运到门口,最终目标是口头指挥机器人。

Agility plans to produce Digit in volume by 2024. It is working with several big, though unnamed, delivery outfits, on ways in which Digit could collaborate safely with people. If the robot’s sensors detect someone it pauses and then navigates around them. Nevertheless, says Dr Hurst, it will soon acquire a simplified face to help signal its intentions. An animated set of eyes, for instance, will look in a particular direction to indicate which way it is heading, and a glance at someone will show it has noticed them.

Agility公司计划到2024年量产Digit机器人,目前正在与几家不知名的大型快递公司合作,研究Digit如何安全地与人类协同作业。如果机器人的传感器检测到人类,它会暂时停下,然后绕开人类。然而,赫斯特博士说,它们即将拥有一张简单的面孔,帮助它们表达自己的意图。例如,一双活灵活现的眼睛注视某个方向,说明它正在朝那个方向行进。如果它瞥了某人一眼,说明注意到此人了。

Do no harm

无害

Such safety systems will be needed for robots to interact successfully with people. At present, their use is governed mainly by standard safety and product-liability rules. Some argue, however, that special robot-specific laws will be required to ensure they are operated safely. As every sci-fi buff knows, Asimov laid out a set of these eight decades ago. They are:

机器人需要这种安全系统才能成功地与人类互动。目前,机器人的使用主要受到安全与产品责任通用规则的约束。但有人认为,应该制定机器人专用法律来确保它们安全作业。科幻迷都知道,早在八十年前,阿西莫夫就拟定了这样一套法律。
原创翻译:龙腾网 http://www.ltaaa.cn 转载请注明出处


A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

第一定律:机器人不得伤害人类个体,或者目睹人类个体将遭受危险而袖手不管。

A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

第二定律:机器人必须服从人给予它的命令,当该命令与第一定律冲突时例外。

A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

第三定律:机器人在不违反第一、第二定律的情况下要尽可能保护自己的生存。

But, as every sci-fi buff also knows, Asimov’s storylines often revolve around these laws not quite working as planned.

但所有的科幻迷也知道,阿西莫夫笔下的故事情节通常围绕着这些法律而展开,但不尽如人意。

About his Digits, Dr Hurst says, “My opinion is that they are very safe. But we need real statistics and a regulatory environment to prove this.”

至于Digit机器人,赫斯特博士说:“我认为它们非常安全,但我们需要真实的统计数据和监管环境来证明这一点”。

For his part, Mr Musk said that Optimus would contain a device that could be used as an off switch if necessary. Although the robot itself would be connected to Wi-Fi, the switch would not, so that it was isolated to prevent remote interference.

马斯克表示,擎天柱Optimus配备的一种装置在必要时可当作开关来使用。尽管机器人连接Wi-Fi,但开关并没有连接,所以能单独用来防止远程干预。

As far as the Amecas’ safety is concerned, Mr Jackson is taking an engineering approach. He observes that one reason human limbs avoid injuring others is by being both firm and floppy at the same time. Unfortunately, the small, powerful actuators needed to emulate this in robots do not yet exist. He is working on that, though, for it will be of little use teaching an Ameca social graces if it then commits the faux pas of bashing into you.

至于阿梅卡的安全性,杰克逊先生采取的是工程方法。他认为,人类四肢能避免伤及他人的一个原因是既结实又松垮。机器人需要体积小、功率大的执行机构才能模仿这种特征,可惜目前还不存在。但他正在研发这种执行机构,因为如果阿梅卡冒昧地撞到你,那么即使学会社交礼仪也无济于事。

评论翻译
 
收藏译文