Brown's Tellex wins the Rethink Robotics Video Challenge

Factory robot
Factory robot | Asharkyu /

Assistant Professor Stefanie Tellex won the prize with a music video about teaching a Baxter robot to manipulate objects.

The Boston-based manufacturer of Baxter robots started the Rethink Robotics Video Challenge, asking users to submit videos of the robots solving research, manufacturing or educational problems. Tellex's video showed Baxter learning how to manipulate objects from experience. With help from graduate student John Oberlin and AC/DC's music, the video took first place. The prize for Tellex's video is a new Baxter for her lab.

Telex's algorithm allows the Baxter to learn how to pick up objects by trying, and often failing. The robot learns by doing, rather than the user programming the exact motions necessary to complete the action. Robots used in factories are able to pick up and manipulate objects, but they require programming. Telex's work allows the robot to learn how to pick up new objects without programming.

Tellex would like to recruit other researchers to participate in her "Million Object Challenge" to set their Baxters to work on this project at night and on weekends, when they are usually doing nothing. Her work has been featured recently on National Public Radio and in MIT Technology Review.

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