Learning requires an appropriate experimental platform that interacts
with its environment and explore it, with sensors and motor
capabilities adequate to the physical world.
MAIA - Italian acronym for "Advanced Model of Artificial Intelligence" - is the leading AI project of ITC-irst which has the goal of developing an integrated platform with which to attack the problem of learning.
The MAIA project is an excuse for focussing on the integration on different fields of Artificial Intelligence, which converge in the realization of the system. Speech understanding, natural language processing, planning, knowledge-based systems, man-machine interfaces, machine vision and robotics are all technologies that MAIA requires and that are research topic at ITC-irst.
The experimental platform of MAIA consists in an integrated system including cooperative brains and tentacles. The brains are distributed on the computer network, the tentacles are provided with sensors to explore the environment and provide information to the brains. The MAIA system interacts with people in various ways, such as voice, written text, touch screens, telecontrol, and the usual keyboard.
One of the brain is an automatic concierge for the Institute, i.e. an intelligent terminal with camera, microphone, keyboard which answers to questions about the Institute's organization, scientific interest of the researchers, publication list, and so on. Questions are spoken or typed in natural language. Upon request, the concierge is able to send one of the tentacles, mobile robotic platforms of various sizes and dimensions, to guide a visitor to a certain office, for example the internal library. The robots, endowed with local reactive intelligence, are capable of navigating in the corridors of the Institute avoiding unexpected obstacles detected by means of several types of sensors (cameras, sonars,...) and following a path computed by the navigation planner, another brain of the MAIA, which is provided with a map of the building, eventually updated or partially self-generated by data coming from new explorations of the tentacles.
The mobile robot n. 1 of MAIA
(erroneously called MAIA)
The mobile robot n. 2 of MAIA
Map of irst for the MAIA Navigation Planner
There are other brains in the Institute, such as the Electronic Librarian, a terminal capable of recognizing researchers from face and voice and of reading the title of borrowed books, again from images captured by a camera:
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