Zero to expert in 8 hours: Fanuc robots harness deep learning

TOKYO – A yellow robotic arm pauses over a pile of metal cylinders, snaps a photo, then proceeds to confidently pick pieces out of the jumble. What’s impressive is that just eight hours ago, its bin-picking skills were about zero. Fanuc Corp. is showing off the first results of its partnership with artificial intelligence startup Preferred Networks Inc. at Tokyo’s International Robot Exhibition this week. The world’s largest maker of automation equipment is using so-called “deep learning” to enable machines that can acquire skills independently. Left overnight, a robot empowered by the algorithms can use trial and error to figure out how to pick up randomly positioned objects with 90 percent accuracy. Eight machines working simultaneously and sharing their lessons can do that in an hour. A veteran Fanuc engineer…

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