30 October 2019
Vol 4, Issue 35

About The Cover

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ONLINE COVER Providing a SPARC. Children respond well to social robots, interacting with them more than with software on a tablet or computer. Senft et al. used a machine learning technique called SPARC (supervised progressively autonomous robot competencies) to enable social robots to learn from a (human) teacher how to coach children playing an educational game. Initially, the robots did not act unless remotely controlled by the teacher; as the teacher selected actions, SPARC learned which behaviors were appropriate for particular situations. The technique may allow domain experts to quickly train social robots to autonomously choose safe actions without requiring specialized programming skills. [CREDIT: PIKUL NOOROD/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM]