Manual Intelligence as a Rosetta Stone for Robot Cognition

TitleManual Intelligence as a Rosetta Stone for Robot Cognition
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsRitter H, Haschke R, Röthling F, Steil JJ
EditorKaneko M., Nakamura Y.
Book TitleRobotics Research

A major unsolved problem is to provide robots with sufficient manual intelligence so that they can seamlessly interact with environments made for humans, where almost all objects have been designed for being acted upon by human hands. With the recent advent of anthropomorphic hand designs whose configuration space begins to approximate that of human hands in a realistic fashion, manual intelligence for robots is rapidly emerging as an exciting interdisciplinary research field, connecting robotics research with advances in the cognitive and brain sciences about the representation and production of dextrous motion. We argue that a thorough understanding of manual intelligence will be basic for our concepts of objects,actions, and the acquisition of new skills, while the rich grounding of manual intelligence in the physical level of interaction may make it much more approachable for analysis than other, “higher level” aspects of intelligence. Therefore, we envisage manual intelligence as a “Rosetta stone” for robot cognition. To substantiate that claim, we present and discuss some of the manifold connections between manual actions and cognitive functions, review some recent developments and paradigm shifts in the field, discuss what we consider major challenges and point out promising directions for future research.