Robots Can Pour Coffee, Scoop Ice Cream With MIT’s Simulation PlatformRobots Can Pour Coffee, Scoop Ice Cream With MIT’s Simulation Platform
Using the system, robots could soon be able to perform everyday tasks such as making latte art and scooping ice cream
May 17, 2023
A new simulation tool unveiled by MIT’s Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) allows robots to handle and manipulate liquids
The tool, FluidLab, is designed to allow robots to perform a wider range of tasks such as pouring coffee, scooping ice cream and manipulating water to pull objects closer to them. Such capabilities would have particular use cases in hospitality and domestic robots.
The platform uses a simulator called FluidEngine, which replicates the behavior of various materials and simulates their response to different movements or environments, with this understanding then transferred to a robot’s system.
“FluidLab provides a new set of manipulation tasks that are inspired by scenarios encountered in our daily life,” the team said. “[It considers] both interactions within multiple fluids (e.g. coffee and frothed milk), as well as the coupling between fluids and solids.”
To test the system, the team got the robot to perform 10 tasks, which either asked the robot to use fluids to access hard-to-reach objects, or directly manipulate liquids. Examples include mixing or separating liquids, moving floating items and creating latte art, with the system demonstrating successful results.
Moving forward, the team said it plans to develop the system to also achieve air and gas manipulation capabilities, as well as develop a closed-loop simulation policy.
“Our real-world experiments show that there’s still a perceivable gap between our simulated material behavior and the real-world environments,” the team said. “Improving both simulation performance and close-loop policy learning are needed to enable robots to perform better in more complex tasks, such as more realistic latte art making."
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