"Planning is the process of generating (possibly partial) representations of future behavior prior to the use of such plans to constrain or control that behavior. The outcome is usually a set of actions, with temporal and other constraints on them, for execution by some agent or agents. As a core aspect of human intelligence, planning has been studied since the earliest days of AI and cognitive science. Planning research has led to many useful tools for real-world applications, and has yielded significant insights into the organization of behavior and the nature of reasoning about actions."
– Planning entry by Austin Tate in the MIT Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science.
In May 2019 Google announced the consolidation of all its travel features. Google Maps, Trips, Hotels and Flights will combine to make one Google Travel, easing the process for vacation planning. Travel startup VacationRenter, which launched last year, pioneered this model for vacation rentals, based on an artificial intelligence driven platform. According to VacationRenter's newly appointed COO, ex-Googler Marco del Rosario, both Google Travel and VacationRenter are early adopters of a pivotal strategy for today's travel technology: consolidation. Digital Journal: How has the world of travel changed in recent years?
Fascinating footage shows a robot using autonomous planning to precisely move along a treacherous path of narrow cinder blocks. Researchers trained the 165-pound'humanoid robot' to walk across narrow terrain by using human-like control, perception and planning algorithms. The video shows the robot, called Atlas, carefully moving across a balance beam using body control created using LIDAR. This system uses a pulsed laser to measure the distance between objects and this is procssed by the machine so it can step correctly on the narrow terrain. The researchers, from the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) in Florida, hope that the tech could be used for bomb squads or rescue missions.
Yet, despite the planning process itself generating vast amounts of data (directly and indirectly), technological innovation in the profession continues to lag behind. This lag might be because of the long legacy of planning's approach to filing, holding, and sharing its knowledge. Planning's greatest obstacle to digital innovation with data is just how much information is hard to access within a painfully analogue system. Future Cities Catapult's Digital Planning programme shows how new technologies that have revolutionised finance, medicine and education industries might also benefit planning. Take decision notices: Richly detailed, the information these documents hold – critical pieces of data that are relevant for the lifespan of developments – is too frequently lost to non-machine readable PDF filing.
Remote sensing can provide crucial information for planetary rovers. However, they must validate these orbital observations with in situ measurements. Typically, this involves validating hyperspectral data using a spectrometer on-board the field robot. In order to achieve this, the robot must visit sampling locations that jointly improve a model of the environment while satisfying sampling constraints. However, current planners follow sub-optimal greedy strategies that are not scalable to larger regions. We demonstrate how the problem can be effectively defined in an MDP framework and propose a planning algorithm based on Monte Carlo Tree Search, which is devoid of the common drawbacks of existing planners and also provides superior performance. We evaluate our approach using hyperspectral imagery of a well-studied geologic site in Cuprite, Nevada.
The task of recognizing goals and plans from missing and full observations can be done efficiently by using automated planning techniques. In many applications, it is important to recognize goals and plans not only accurately, but also quickly. To address this challenge, we develop novel goal recognition approaches based on planning techniques that rely on planning landmarks. In automated planning, landmarks are properties (or actions) that cannot be avoided to achieve a goal. We show the applicability of a number of planning techniques with an emphasis on landmarks for goal and plan recognition tasks in two settings: (1) we use the concept of landmarks to develop goal recognition heuristics; and (2) we develop a landmark-based filtering method to refine existing planning-based goal and plan recognition approaches. These recognition approaches are empirically evaluated in experiments over several classical planning domains. We show that our goal recognition approaches yield not only accuracy comparable to (and often higher than) other state-of-the-art techniques, but also substantially faster recognition time over such techniques.
Assessing whether an agent has abandoned a goal or is actively pursuing it is important when multiple agents are trying to achieve joint goals, or when agents commit to achieving goals for each other. Making such a determination for a single goal by observing only plan traces is not trivial as agents often deviate from optimal plans for various reasons, including the pursuit of multiple goals or the inability to act optimally. In this article, we develop an approach based on domain independent heuristics from automated planning, landmarks, and fact partitions to identify sub-optimal action steps - with respect to a plan - within a plan execution trace. Such capability is very important in domains where multiple agents cooperate and delegate tasks among themselves, e.g. through social commitments, and need to ensure that a delegating agent can infer whether or not another agent is actually progressing towards a delegated task. We demonstrate how an agent can use our technique to determine - by observing a trace - whether an agent is honouring a commitment. We empirically show, for a number of representative domains, that our approach infers sub-optimal action steps with very high accuracy and detects commitment abandonment in nearly all cases.
Automated planning technology has developed significantly. Designing a planning model that allows an automated agent to be capable of reacting intelligently to unexpected events in a real execution environment yet remains a challenge. This article describes a domain-independent approach to allow the agent to be context-aware of its execution environment and the task it performs, acquire new information that is guaranteed to be related and more importantly manageable, and integrate such information into its model through the use of ontologies and semantic operations to autonomously formulate new objectives, resulting in a more human-like behaviour for handling unexpected events in the context of opportunities.
In planning and scheduling, solving problems with both state and temporal constraints is hard since these constraints may be highly coupled. Judicious orderings of events enable solvers to efficiently make decisions over sequences of actions to satisfy complex hybrid specifications. The ordering problem is thus fundamental to planning. Promising recent works have explored the ordering problem as search, incorporating a special tree structure for efficiency. However, such approaches only reason over partial order specifications. Having observed that an ordering is inconsistent with respect to underlying constraints, prior works do not exploit the tree structure to efficiently generate orderings that resolve the inconsistency. In this paper, we present Conflict-directed Incremental Total Ordering (CDITO), a conflict-directed search method to incrementally and systematically generate event total orders given ordering relations and conflicts returned by sub-solvers. Due to its ability to reason over conflicts, CDITO is much more efficient than Incremental Total Ordering. We demonstrate this by benchmarking on temporal network configuration problems that involve routing network flows and allocating bandwidth resources over time.
We consider the problem of online planning in a Markov Decision Process when given only access to a generative model, restricted to open-loop policies - i.e. sequences of actions - and under budget constraint. In this setting, the Open-Loop Optimistic Planning (OLOP) algorithm enjoys good theoretical guarantees but is overly conservative in practice, as we show in numerical experiments. We propose a modified version of the algorithm with tighter upper-confidence bounds, KL-OLOP, that leads to better practical performances while retaining the sample complexity bound. Finally, we propose an efficient implementation that significantly improves the time complexity of both algorithms.
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