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February 26, 2024

AI Robot Masters Marble Maze Game, Surpassing Human Ability

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Dec 21, 2023

An artificial intelligence (AI) robot named CyberRunner has achieved a major breakthrough by mastering a marble maze game with physical skills that surpass even the best human players.

Backstory: The Labyrinth Marble Game

The marble maze game that the AI robot mastered is called Labyrinth. It is played on a wooden board containing miniature models of landmarks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The board is slanted at a 12-degree angle. The object of the game is to guide a small steel ball to roll through the maze, collect small metal pins along the way, and exit through a hole at the bottom of the board in the shortest possible time.

This marble maze game requires precision, dexterity, hand-eye coordination as well as quick decision making to tilt the board and guide the ball through the intricate track.

The current world record for completing the Labyrinth marble game is 15 seconds, held by human player Marc Pelletier. Even the most skilled humans take around 20 seconds on average to complete it.

The Breakthrough

Researchers at ETH Zurich spent over 2 years developing an AI system specifically for mastering intricate physical skill tasks like the Labyrinth game.

They used the latest techniques in reinforcement learning and simulation to train the AI robot called CyberRunner. The robot consists of a robotic arm with a wide range of motion and a vision module to perceive the game board.

Within just 6 hours of practice time with the real Labyrinth game board, CyberRunner was able to complete the maze in 15 seconds – matching the current human world record!

The scientists were amazed at how rapidly the AI robot learned the complex physical skills needed to tilt the board at the perfect angles while adjusting for the rolling steel ball’s momentum and trajectory.

Dr. Peter Karkus, leader of the research team at ETH Zurich said:

Our jaws dropped when we saw how quickly CyberRunner was able to reach not only human-level performance but match the world record holder on its very first try. This is by far one of the most difficult physical skill tasks mastered by AI to date.

Implications

This latest achievement has profound implications for the future of AI:

  1. Surpasses human abilities: For the first time, AI has reached super-human performance in a game requiring physical skills like coordination, precision and visual processing. This demonstrates advanced robot learning capabilities.

  2. Simulation training transfers to real world: Reinforcement learning in simulation enabled CyberRunner to achieve real-world mastery of a highly complex task in under 6 hours. This ability to leverage simulation training can enable rapid learning.

  3. Broadens scope for AI: Mastering a dynamic, intricate, physical skill game expands the breadth of capabilities in artificial intelligence. This paves the way for AI to take on more complex, real-world tasks.

  4. Next horizon – humanoid robots: CyberRunner’s robotic arm has more maneuverability than a human arm. Researchers note that the next horizon is training humanoid robots to match and exceed human-level performance in skills combining mobility, vision and coordination.

Evolution of AI’s Game-Playing Prowess

AI has achieved several game-playing milestones over the past decade:

  • 2011: IBM’s Watson beats humans at Jeopardy
  • 2016: AlphaGo beats world champion at complex strategy game Go
  • 2022: AI programs master complex video games like Dota 2 and Starcraft
  • 2023: CyberRunner matches world record in physical skill marble maze game

With each achievement AI demonstrates expanded reasoning and now physical abilities surpassing human limitations.

What’s Next

Researchers are upbeat that CyberRunner’s physical skills mastery of the marble maze game foreshadows advanced robot capabilities across several fronts:

  • Medical procedures: Robots capable of highly precise physical manipulation with fast visual processing can aid surgeries and other medical treatments.

  • Warehouse automation: AI-enabled robots that can dynamically adjust to changing environments can drive next-gen automation in warehouses, retail and factories.

  • Elderly assistance: Robots skilled at operating safely in human spaces can help the elderly and disabled with more complex tasks.

  • Disaster response: During disasters like earthquakes, flexible humanoid rescue robots can potentially save more lives.

Dr. Karkus sums up the promise ahead:

CyberRunner shows the tremendous potential of AI and robotics working in harmony. We envision future smart robots trained through simulation to carry out intricate real-world tasks with speed, precision and adaptability that far surpasses human capability. The future is going to be mind-blowing!

So while humans still enjoy supremacy in many areas like strategic thinking, creativity and general wisdom, AI continues to achieve new mastery of skills once considered exclusively human. The rise of versatile, dexterous robots hints at a future where machines and humans operate more collaboratively with our complementary strengths.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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