RoboEarth, which is kind of like a Wikipedia for robots, was designed by European engineers to let robots learn from each other. Robots will be able to write to and read from a common information source. In this way, a robot that has never done a particular task can do it immediately once some other robot has done it.
(RoboEarth overview diagram)
Bringing a new meaning to the phrase "experience is the best teacher", the goal of RoboEarth is to allow robotic systems to benefit from the experience of other robots, paving the way for rapid advances in machine cognition and behaviour, and ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction.
RoboEarth will include everything needed to close the loop from robot to RoboEarth to robot. The RoboEarth World-Wide-Web style database will be implemented on a Server with Internet and Intranet functionality. It stores information required for object recognition (e.g., images, object models), navigation (e.g., maps, world models), tasks (e.g., action recipes, manipulation strategies) and hosts intelligent services (e.g., image annotation, offline learning).
To close the loop, the RoboEarth Collaborators will also implement components for a ROS compatible, robot-unspecific, high-level operating system as well as components for robot-specific, low level controllers accessible via a Hardware Abstraction Layer.
(RoboEarth demonstration video)
This reminds me of the talk between robots (TBR) feature discussed by Frederik Pohl in his 1954 short story The Midas Plague. In the story, Henry is a companion robot; these robots cooperate with each other, sharing information to better server their masters:
"Fine! Well, get started on the other things, then."
"Yes, sir," said Henry, and assumed the curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits - the Talk Between Robots radio - as it arranged the appointments for its master.
More recently, In the 2004 movie I, Robot, the advanced NS5 robots had a special feature: additional software and instructions could be downloaded wirelessly to individual robots. NS5's receiving a download show a red glow in the chest cavity.
(Middle NS5 Robot Gets A Download)
Humans keep on trying to help robots talk with each other: