A team of French researchers from The National Center for Scientific Research has developed an autobiographical memory for the robot Nao, which enables it to pass on knowledge learned from people to other, less knowledgeable people. This technological progress could notably be used for operations on the International Space Station, where the robot, as the only permanent member, would liaise between the different crews that change every six months in order to pass on information.
People can teach the robot new actions through physical demonstration (by putting the robot in the correct position), visual imitation (through the Kinect system), or voice command. These individual actions are then combined into procedures and stored in the robot’s autobiographical memory developed by researchers, thus enabling the robot to reproduce them for other human agents if needed.
To test their system, the scientists tried to reproduce a scenario that might occur on the International Space Station. The transmission of information on board is essential, since crews change every six months. In the scenario, an electronic card is damaged. Nao plays the role of the scientist’s assistant by following his directions, bringing or holding parts of the card during repair. If this same failure happens again, the memory of this event enables the robot to use a video to show how the repair was made to a new member of the crew. It could also respond to questions regarding the previous event, while helping with the new repair. If a slightly different failure takes place, the robot could share its expertise on failures of this type, while recording the steps needed to resolve this new problem and then transferring them to the scientists in the next crew.
These results demonstrate the feasibility of this system, and show that such humanoid robots represent a potential solution for the accumulation and transfer of knowledge. The researcher team hopes to test their Nao robot in the real conditions of space operations, with zero gravity.