This robot that can play Jenga better than most humans could be used for more than just a mechanical gaming companion in the future.
Robots and machines helping us in our everyday lives is nothing new. It has been going on for decades. However, they are becoming more and more prevalent as time passes. The advent of artificial intelligence means that machines and computers can do more and more tasks previously undertaken by humans.
Whether that sounds amazing, cool, or even scary, it is happening. Some of the ways in which robotics is being used to further the plight of humankind are revolutionary while others are merely entertaining. The subject of this article may seem like the former on first glance, but it is actually a lot more than that. A robotic arm that can play Jenga just as well as a person, as reported by CNN.
Engineers at the Massachusettes Institute of Technology developed the arm, and it thinks about Jenga in the same way as a person would. It's soft-pronged gripper, external camera, and force-sensing wrist cuff allow the arm to test the viability of certain blocks. It then "learns" whether that block can be safely removed, just like a human player would do. It's not perfect, but trials of the robot have revealed that it can remove just as many blocks as your average person.
As outlined above, with the pressing issues to deal with around the world, why is MIT busy developing AI that can teach itself how to play Jenga? The intention is actually for the technology to be used for much more than that in the future. With more development, this same technology could be used to sort through and separate recycling or to assemble products such as cell phones.
Beyond that, this Jenga-playing tech could even be used to assist the elderly and the disabled with menial tasks. So there you have it, not just your average robot arm. Also, not just a fun little side project for researchers at MIT. Yes, it might only be an average Jenga player for now, but with some tweaking, it could be an AI robot with more useful real-life applications.