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Blue: Affordable 'Human-Safe' Robot Uses AI to Master Household Tasks

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have built Blue, a low-cost robot that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and deep reinforcement learning to master human tasks like folding laundry or making coffee. Blue’s plastic parts and high-performance motors cost under $5,000 to manufacture and assemble. The robot has joints that can move in the same directions as a human shoulder, elbow, and wrist, allowing people to more easily teach it maneuvers using virtual reality. Blue can hold up to 2 kilograms of weight with arms fully extended, and is "thermally-limited"; similar to a person, it can exert force in a quick burst, until its thermal limits are reached and it needs time to rest or cool down. "A weaker robot is just safer. The strongest robot is most dangerous. We wanted to design the weakest robot that could still do really useful stuff,” says graduate student David Gealy.