Robots develop their own language and talk

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A pair of Australian robots have successfully created their own language from scratch and used it to communicate with one another.

Developed by researchers at the University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology, the Lingodroids move around a maze to develop an understanding of their environment.

"Despite having different internal representations of the world, the robots are able to develop a common lexicon for places, and then use simple sentences to explain and understand relationships between places - even places that they could not physically experience, such as areas behind closed doors," they say.

"By learning the language, the robots are able to develop representations for places that are inaccessible to them, and later, when the doors are opened, use those representations to perform goal-directed behavior."

The robots created their language after navigating their way around a maze, using on-board cameras, laser range finders and sonar to construct a map of their surroundings.

They created their own word for each mapped location, using a preloaded database of syllables - 'pucu' was one, 'vaji' another.

And when the bots met, they swapped their experiences, using microphones and speakers, by playing five language 'games' - where-are-we, go-to, how-far, what-direction and where-is-there.

"The final assessment showed that these generatively grounded toponyms had real grounded meaning, with the robots successfully navigating to and
meeting at several of the shared, imagined toponyms," says the team.