If there are one simple skill roboticists would love to steal from humans, it’s our ability to pick things up. Apples or eggs, pens or power drills; it doesn’t matter to us. Our hands are dextrous, able to grasp a range of shapes, and — more importantly — we can calculate how to handle any object we’ve not seen before in a flash.
Robots, by comparison, are slow and clumsy butterfingers. Their hardware is capable of doing the actual grasping, but they get confused by even tiny changes in size, shape, or position. This is a big a problem if we ever want robots to be helpful around the house, or if we want to improve their utility in warehouses, factories, and other industrial settings.
A startup named Embodied Intelligence is one of a crop of new ventures tackling this problem with the latest AI. The company has been operating in stealth for while, but this week announced itself to the world. It’s formed from researchers from the Elon Musk-backed AI lab OpenAI and the University of Berkley and has $7 million in venture capital funding to get it started. The company’s goal? Simply put, helping robots get a grip.