The School of Computer Science has entered into an agreement with Sony Corporation through its U.S. subsidiary, Sony Corporation of America, to collaborate on artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics research, the company announced today.
Initial research and development efforts will focus on optimizing food preparation, cooking and delivery. This area of research and development was selected because the technology necessary for a robot to handle the complex and varied task of food preparation and delivery could be applied to a broader set of skills and industries. Applications could include those where machines must handle fragile and irregularly shaped materials and carry out complex household and small business tasks. Additionally, robots developed for food preparation and delivery must operate in small areas — an ability that could be valuable for many other industries.
For this project, researchers will focus on defining the domain of food ordering, preparation and delivery. Initially, they will build upon existing manipulation robots and mobile robots, and will plan on developing new domain-specific robots for predefined food preparation items and for mobility in a limited confined space.
Depending on the needs of the consumer, food offerings and preparation methods could be adjusted based on personal dietary restrictions and the availability of certain ingredients. Food could be delivered to the home or office, and dining tables could be set elegantly prior to food being served.
In addition to this current project, Sony plans to continue supporting CMU's AI and robotics-related R&D efforts and startups through its Seed Acceleration Program (SAP), Sony's business incubation platform, as well as the Sony Innovation Fund, a corporate venture capital fund.
This research will take place primarily at SCS, engaging a focused group of robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning faculty members and students. For Sony, Hiroaki Kitano, corporate executive, will serve as project lead.
"Making and serving food is an immense challenge for automation, so we're excited about the types of machines and software that might emerge as we jointly explore a variety of approaches and solutions," said SCS Dean Andrew Moore. "Both Sony and CMU aim high, so we are confident this research will produce technologies that impact robotics across a broad number of applications."
"This project has the potential to make the vast possibilities of AI and robotics more familiar and accessible to the general public," Kitano said. "Additionally, it could also assist those for whom daily tasks, such as food preparation, are challenging. I am very excited to be working with the talented scientists at CMU to make this vision a reality."