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Scientists are teaching robots how to hunt

Tom Walker | Getty Images

Apparently a group of researchers thinks it is a good idea to teach robots how to hunt.

They say teaching robots how to act like predators is a needed step in getting machines that can work with humans in everyday life, according to new research described in Vice's Motherboard.

The team, whose members hail from University of Zurich and the University of Ulster, are part of the European Commission-funded VISUALISE project. The project's goal is to build hardware that mimics the features of animal eyes for various purposes.

For this study, the researchers trained a robot to see objects on its own and pursue them. In a paper uploaded to the server, the scientists describe a "neuromorphic" camera mounted on a robot that mimics some of the capabilities of an animal's eye.

The predator robot processes information from its environment through the eye-like camera in a "deep neural network,"— in this case a software program that uses algorithms to tell the robot how to orient itself and how to move.

The idea of predatory robots may sound terrifying, but the technology's actual applications could be far more innocuous, and more wide ranging, as researcher Tobi Delbruck told Vice's Motherboard.

"Following [in large groups of self-driving cars or drones] is the obvious application, but one could imagine future luggage or shopping carts that follow you," Delbruck, told Motherboard in an email. "This way, the problem is less like a predator and its prey and more like herding, or a parent and child."

Here is a demonstration of the predator and prey robots at work:

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