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Relevance relative to the call for proposals

Neodroid is relevant to the following aspects that FRINATEK scheme promotes: Scientific quality at the forefront of international research Deep learning applied to robot visual-motor tasks is a very nascent research field, with 2015 being the first year in which this has been explored in the simplest of grasping tasks, by Cornell University [1] and later in 2016 at Google [2]. Independently, and at around the same time, we began our early work [15] on this topic – to be published later this year (2016). Hence in this regard, we are in the international forefront already. Beyond this, we have a deep learning paradigm that differs both from that of Cornell and Google. Our approach has greater potential and crosssynergies with the developments within virtual reality (VR), coinciding with the introduction of the first consumer-quality VR technology in 2016. The combination of deep learning and virtual reality is a key novelty of our project and we are the first to apply this to developing robot brains with visual-motor ability.

Boldness in scientific thinking and innovation

The potential for Neodroid is to open doors to a whole new area of research with wide impact for the future. When virtual reality becomes commonplace and of a high quality in a few years, it will enable humans to teach virtual workers and robots what to do – all in virtual reality – and the brains of these virtual workers or robots can be transferred to physical robots anywhere – on- or off-planet. This can revolutionize the way humans teach robots and the way robots assist humans. As a stepping stone, this has the potential to enable greater endeavours for the human race, such as remote construction of factories and resource mining in space, affordable and automated construction of homes on Earth, as well as automated farming and processing of food, personal assistants to humans and manufacturing of robots themselves. Taken further, the potential is the duplication of the visual-motor skills of a human expert anywhere on Earth into many robots anywhere in the Solar System – hence solving the challenge of expensive human labour costs and worker availability currently inhibiting the progress of human evolution. This is the bold potential, 4

and we believe in this light that the Neodroid project is a worthy and realistic first step towards this exciting potential.

Careers for young research talents

Through is early career as research scientist, Dr. John Reidar Mathiassen has had practical implementation and management experience in introducing machine vision and robotics to use in the Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture industries. He is also a visionary and sees the immense potential for future scientific innovation in robotics applications. The combination of practical experience and being a visionary has led him to look for and discover some critical next steps in deep learning, virtual reality and humanoid robotics – steps requiring focus now in order to lay the foundation for the future. Neodroid is a stepping stone for Dr. Mathiassen, and will enable him to develop his career so that he can start building up a research group to develop an exciting new (yet to be named) research field spanning deep learning, virtual reality and robotics.

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