Not satisfied with launching reusable rockets and designing electric supercars, Elon Musk is looking to create domestic robots to help people around the house.
The billionaire entrepreneur won’t be working through SpaceX or Tesla, but through another branch of his growing tech empire, collaborative artificial intelligence company Open AI.
The firm, chaired by Musk and president of start-up incubator Y Combinator, Sam Altman, plans to use ‘off the shelf’ robots rather than building them from scratch.
According to Business Insider, Open AI received more than $1 billion in funding when it launched at the end of 2015, and robotics would be a practical field where it could flex its AI muscle.
In a blog post on the firm’s website this week, Open AI said: ‘We’re working to enable a physical robot to perform basic housework.
‘There are existing techniques for specific tasks, but we believe that learning algorithms can eventually be made reliable enough to create a general-purpose robot.
‘More generally, robotics is a good testbed for many challenges in AI.’
However, the non-profit organisation looks to have bigger aspirations than just simple mindless robots for household chores.
The firm is also exploring sophisticated chatbots which could move far beyond finding out the weather forecast or directions, to complex real world tasks like holding a conversation with the user, reports Business Insider.
Using powerful AI algorithms, these advanced chatbots would even ask questions around points they didn’t understand.
The firm adds: ‘We’ve also formed teams around specific projects. The intention isn’t just to solve these problems, but to develop general learning algorithms in the process.
‘These algorithms will, in turn, help us build agents that are more capable.’
But Open AI is eyeing games as another tool for improving AI, enabling its algorithms to learn through play and an approach which will require ‘significant advances’ in modelling and reinforcement learning.
In a nod to Google’s AI successes to date – which most publicly includes the defeat of a human competitor at ancient board game Go – the team wrote: ‘We are inspired by the pioneering work of DeepMind, who have produced impressive results in this area in the past few years.’
Open AI admits it is ‘just getting started’ on the projects, but if Musk’s other projects are anything to go by, the fields of robotics and AI could be in for some exciting advances, with Open AI throwing its hat into a ring filled with an increasing number of competitors.
Earlier this week, Japanese car manufacturer Toyota provided insight its plans for mechanical aids for the elderly.
The Toyota Research Institute – the car maker’s advanced research division – has said the car maker is looking to boost safety by enabling vehicles to anticipate and avoid potential accident situations using artificial intelligence.
Last year Toyota announced it would be investing $1 bn (£682 million) over the next five years, but the firm’s recent comments indicate it could in future use the same methods used to produce its cars on a large scale, making the production of robots cheaper.