Ever since the concepts of robots were born, the defining feature has always been their lack of the sense of self preservation.
The mere thought that a robot would at some point in it’s life try to preserve it’s own life is so ludicrous that it’s become a cliche for most sci-fi storylines.
However, now a group of researchers from Leibniz University in Hannover are trying get their robots to do exactly that.
The experiment being carried out by the team is trying to see how robots react when subjected to various degrees of pain and can they possibly learn self preservation from it.
They are doing this by developing a Pain-Reflex controller for a BioTac Fingertip sensor fitted to a Kuka robotic arm.
What this setup does is, that, it imitates the human nervous system to the extent that it can feel pain based on differing levels of force.
The pain signals are transmitted as spikes into the system, which then categorizes the stimulus into either light, moderate or severe pain categories.
Upon being able to understand this pain, the robotic arm then reacts just like a human would, retracting itself away from the pain stimulus.
Just like pain, the team was also able to make the robotic arm react to temperature, by placing a boiling cup of water on its its fingertip sensor.
They believe that by teaching a robot how to understand different levels of pain, they would be able to teach it how to recognize and convey, the need for repairs.
This way, damage done to the robot during regular day to day work won’t go unnoticed, which can directly lead to preventing accidents in the workplace.