October 14, 2011      

Most people would say that picking a pepper off a vine is simpler than assembling a Harley-Davidson engine. Yet for robots, the opposite is true. To build the engine, a robot would start with a programmed order of operations. It would know the location of each part on a tray, how to grasp it, where it goes, and how to attach it to the motor. All the parts-cylinders, rings, tappets, rods-would match their required specifications and fit where they belonged.

Now consider picking a pepper. Unlike ...

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