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Robot grabs prize

A robot that can autonomously recognize an orange and then pick it up from a table has won the 2003 prize for Progress towards Machine Intelligence. The robot, built by a team from the University of Sunderland led by Cornelius Weber beat competition from four other universities to snatch the award, run by the British Computer Society and sponsored by Electrolux.

The winning robot, MIRA is fitted with cameras, sensors and sonar which allow it to respond to a verbal command, move independently towards a table and identify and grasp the orange, keeping hold of it while it moves back to its original location and then, on a second command, releasing the orange from its grip. The full MIRA team includes Cornelius Weber, Stefan Wermter, Alexandros Zochios and Chris Rowan.

Professor Max Bramer who chairs the award panel and the British Computer Society's Specialist Artificial Intelligence Group explains,

"MIRA represents a real step forward in robot technology and machine intelligence and provides a foundation for some very powerful future applications both in domestic and commercial robots."

MIRA beat off strong competition from three other finalists:

"Overall, the quality of this year's entrants was very good. All four finalists clearly demonstrated that machine intelligence is an area where much progress is being made in terms of abstract thinking and, excitingly, in terms of actual implementation."