Researchers at UC Berkeley have equipped robots with what they call "visual foresight," a form of robotic imagination. They can look only a few seconds into the future for now, but they're enough for the robot to figure out how to move objects around on a table without disturbing obstacles.
Crucially, the robot can learn to perform these tasks without any help from humans or prior knowledge about physics, its environment or what the objects are. That’s because the visual imagination is learned entirely from scratch from unattended and unsupervised exploration, where the robot plays with objects on a table. After this play phase, the robot builds a predictive model of the world, and can use this model to manipulate new objects that it has not seen before.