The DeepMind robotics team has revealed three new advances that it says will help robots make faster, better, and safer decisions in the wild. One includes a system for gathering training data with a “Robot Constitution” to make sure your robot office assistant can fetch you more printer paper — but without mowing down a human co-worker who happens to be in the way.
Google’s data gathering system, AutoRT, can use a visual language model (VLM) and large language model (LLM) working hand in hand to understand its environment, adapt to unfamiliar settings, and decide on appropriate tasks. The Robot Constitution, which is inspired by Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics,” is described as a set of “safety-focused prompts” instructing the LLM to avoid choosing tasks that involve humans, animals, sharp objects, and even electrical appliances.
For additional safety, DeepMind programmed the robots to stop automatically if the force on its joints goes past a certain threshold and included a physical kill switch human operators can use to deactivate them. Over a period of seven months, Google deployed a fleet of 53 AutoRT robots into four different office buildings and conducted over 77,000 trials. Some robots were controlled remotely by human operators, while others operated either based on a script or completely autonomously using Google’s Robotic Transformer (RT-2) AI learning model.