Image credit – MIT


As humans, we tend to have greater flexibility and adaptiveness compared to robots. For example, if we dropped an orange, we would reach out and attempt to stop it from rolling to the ground. Robots, on the other hand, might not, depending on how they are programmed. However, researchers at MIT have developed a system that would make robots better at tracking objects.

Dubbed TurboTrack, this system will rely on RFID tags where when applied to an object, robots will be able to track the object. This is done by using a wireless signal that reflects off the RFID tag and bounces back to the reader. Using RFID for tracking isn’t new, but the researchers have applied an algorithm that will sift through the signals to find the RFID tag’s response, which will then help the system pinpoint the object, which should help with localization accuracy.

According to the researchers, they believe that this system has the potential to replace computer vision for certain robotic tasks. Fadel Adib, an assistant professor and principal investigator in the MIT Media Lab adds that using the RFID system is also a more cost-friendly way to adding tracking to robots as RFID tags cost around 3 cents each.

“If you use RF signals for tasks typically done using computer vision, not only do you enable robots to do human things, but you can also enable them to do superhuman things. And you can do it in a scalable way, because these RFID tags are only 3 cents each.”

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