We humans are good at moving around in this world of ours. If we are serious about the ubiquity of robots' help to humankind, we must pass this skill to our robots. It also turns out that in some tasks, robots can find their way better than humans. This suggests that it is time for humans and robots to join forces.

Imagine you arrive at a party. You are a bit late. The big room is teeming with voices and movement. People talk, drink, dance, walk. As you look around, you notice a friend waving to you from the opposite side of the room. You fill two glasses with wine, glance quickly across the room, and start on your journey. You maneuver between people, bend your body this way and that way to avoid collision or when shoved from the side, you raise your hands and squeeze your shoulders, you step over objects on the floor. A scientifically minded observer would say that you react to minute disruptions on your path while also keeping in mind your global goal; that you probably make dozens of decisions per second, and a great many sensors are likely involved in this process; that you react not only to what you see, but also to what you sense at your sides, your back, your feet. In a minute's time you happily greet your friend and hand him a glass of wine.

You may be surprised to hear that in your trip across the room you planned and executed a complex motion planning strategy ...

Get Sensing, Intelligence, Motion: How Robots and Humans Move in an Unstructured World now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.