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Dublin: 14°C Friday 19 August 2022

Robots are now being taught how to feel pain

“Why? Why was I programmed to feel pain?”

RESEARCHERS IN GERMANY are hoping the ability to feel pain will make robots smarter and help them avoid accidents.

The researchers, from Leibniz University of Hannover, are developing an “artificial robot nervous system to teach robots how to feel pain” and respond so they avoid damage.

The idea is that if robots are working alongside humans, such a system would help it react to problems. If one of its parts is damaged, it could use this knowledge to avoid further damage or accidents that could harm it or any people working alongside it.

“Why is is a good idea for robots to feel pain? The same reason why it’s a good idea for humans to feel pain. Pain is a system that protects us” one of the researchers, Johannes Kuehn, told IEEE Spectrum. “When we evade from the source of pain, it helps us not get hurt”.

The experiments involved a person tapping part of a robot, specifically a fingertip sensor that could detect pressure and temperature, and seeing how it reacted.

If the force applied to the robot exceeded a certain threshold, it would send repetitive signals to the robot, causing it to pull away.

The robot was able to tell the difference between light, moderate and repetitive taps and was based on the same way people feel tactile pain.

So the experiments involved actions like this:

robot contact Source: IEEE Spectrum/YouTube

As opposed to this:

893575 Source: Frinkiac

Maybe going easy on them is for the best. We don’t want to push our luck.

Source: IEEE Spectrum/YouTube

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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