Google has teamed up with researchers from Princeton, Columbia and MIT to create TossingBot, which can learn how to pick up and toss various objects into the right containers on its own. During its first rodeo, the mechanical arm didn't know what to do with the pile of objects it was presented with. After 14 hours of trial and error and analyzing them with its overhead cameras, it was finally able to toss the right item into the right container 85 percent of the time.

As the tech giant explains, programming a robot to properly grasp and toss specific objects -- a screwdriver, for instance, could land in different ways, based on where you hold it -- is incredibly difficult. By using machine learning, the robot will teach itself from experience instead, as well as adapt to new scenarios and learn on the fly. That's the kind of machine that would be useful in warehouses and distribution centers, such as Amazon's or UPS'.


The company came out of stealth in May 2016, revealing its plan to develop self-driving technology for semi-trucks. In August Uber purchased the company and all-star team to help expand its autonomous efforts. Then in October an Otto-powered truck made its first delivery, hauling 50,000 Budweiser cans from Fort Collins, Colo., to Colorado Springs.

The company was co-founded by former Google engineers, other engineers at Otto have worked at Tesla, Apple and Google.

Otto focuses on self-driving technology that could be fitted into trucks that are already on the road now. In other words, Otto doesn’t want to develop its own self-driving vehicles — the startup chose to focus on some sort of self-driving kit instead.

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