A group of researchers from the University of Hannover presented the concept of a system that would allow robots operating in dangerous conditions, to feel pain and to avoid its source. Although this innovation may seem counter-productive — the fact that robots don’t feel pain, is largely their advantage over the person — the authors of the idea believe that the proposed innovation has a great potential.
Experts suggest to create a “nervous system” for robots that would allow them to feel pain. This, in turn, will allow them to react at its source, preventing damage that he could cause. The results that have been achieved at the moment, the developers presented at the conference ICRA 2016 in Stockholm
Scientists noted that the idea was inspired by the works of the famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. Probably by this they meant that the Third law of robotics mentioned in many works of the author, it obliges the robot to take care of its own to the extent that it does not danger human life or is not contrary to the direct instructions of the people. Thus, experts believe that robots the ability to feel pain may be useful for the same purpose, that of living beings as a means to avoid the danger. The developers note that people with congenital insensitivity to pain is much more likely to receive a variety of injuries, and the reason for this is that they do not receive timely warnings about the danger, and their bodies do not react to its source instinctively.
The similarity of the nervous system could protect not only robots, but also working with them side by side people, because such an arrangement would allow the robot to “feel” damage, and they would not have an unpleasant surprise in a dangerous situation.
The essence of the proposed technology is that when an unwanted contact with the object (for example, if the red hot) the robot will be able to fix the “pain level” with the help of installed sensors, and what the level is higher, the more rapidly to react to it. This will allow, on the one hand, gently work around the object, delivering only a small discomfort, but to avoid truly dangerous objects, sharp movements.
Experts are aware that the word “pain” cannot be considered one hundred percent applicable to machines with intelligence and consciousness. However, they believe this concept is appropriate, since the system they hope to create, will work by analogy with the nervous system of organisms, in the likeness of which it is created.