This Intelligent Robot can Pour You a Cup of Coffee, Plays Chess as a Hobby and is Gunning for Your Job


Engineers in Taiwan have developed a robot that can move chess pieces on a board against an opponent and pour coffee, but the poor fellow is bored and he’s looking for a real job. The robot, developed by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute, spent the week at the Consumer Electronics Show displaying what developers call an “intelligent vision system”.

The robot played games against opponents and can see its environment better and act with greater precision than its peers can. The robot can perform a variety of tasks in manufacturing and service industries with this enhanced vision. It also has artificial intelligence, which will allow it to learn on the job.

Playing chess is simply a hobby used to display the robot’s visual acuity. It is handy in moving and gripping objects and has the ability to distinguish between different chess pieces. Lewis Liu, ITRI’s division director explains that the vision system can distinguish between objects and their location with greater accuracy than other robots.

Liu explained that while traditional robots use predefined points, this one is more flexible in locating and manipulating objects and has a robotic version of hand eye coordination. A robot having these capabilities could for example do household tasks such as assisting disabled people or seniors with meal preparation, or setting or clearing a table.

In the industrial arena, it would be able to adapt to new situations better than other robots can. It could for instance recognize when a component is at a different location or a different size rather than being programmed for a single task in a defined space. The ability was demonstrated by the robot at CES pouring coffee for its chess opponents, regardless of where their cup was placed.

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A robot developed by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute plays chess with human. (Image credit : Rob Lever – AFP)

The ITRI robot is among several others exhibited at the Las Vegas technology show with enhanced artificial intelligence resulting in new skills. According to Liu, the institute is not commercializing the robot. He is however available for work in an industrial or service job through a partner or an investor.