Collaborating Authors

Planning & Scheduling

Brazilian government rolls out remote workforce management system


After saving millions of dollars by enabling public servants to operate remotely, the Brazilian government has developed a system to enable planning, monitoring and control of work carried out in that format. Developed in-house, the system is now available to bodies under the Ministry of Economy, however the intention is that the system is rolled out more broadly across government. The release of the system follows the framework for remote working published by the Brazilian government in October, which sets out basic guidance but also enables the Ministry's organisations to develop their own management programs in relation to remote work. Beyond the Ministry of Economy, various other government bodies are implementing other remote working management systems made available through the Brazilian Public Software Portal. The process that has been occurring through a collaborative effort aimed at providing mutual support across the various public sector bodies that are implementing such systems, as well as the continuous improvement of these platforms.

On Exploiting Hitting Sets for Model Reconciliation Artificial Intelligence

In human-aware planning, a planning agent may need to provide an explanation to a human user on why its plan is optimal. A popular approach to do this is called model reconciliation, where the agent tries to reconcile the differences in its model and the human's model such that the plan is also optimal in the human's model. In this paper, we present a logic-based framework for model reconciliation that extends beyond the realm of planning. More specifically, given a knowledge base $KB_1$ entailing a formula $\varphi$ and a second knowledge base $KB_2$ not entailing it, model reconciliation seeks an explanation, in the form of a cardinality-minimal subset of $KB_1$, whose integration into $KB_2$ makes the entailment possible. Our approach, based on ideas originating in the context of analysis of inconsistencies, exploits the existing hitting set duality between minimal correction sets (MCSes) and minimal unsatisfiable sets (MUSes) in order to identify an appropriate explanation. However, differently from those works targeting inconsistent formulas, which assume a single knowledge base, MCSes and MUSes are computed over two distinct knowledge bases. We conclude our paper with an empirical evaluation of the newly introduced approach on planning instances, where we show how it outperforms an existing state-of-the-art solver, and generic non-planning instances from recent SAT competitions, for which no other solver exists.

Online Action Recognition Artificial Intelligence

Recognition in planning seeks to find agent intentions, goals or activities given a set of observations and a knowledge library (e.g. goal states, plans or domain theories). In this work we introduce the problem of Online Action Recognition. It consists in recognizing, in an open world, the planning action that best explains a partially observable state transition from a knowledge library of first-order STRIPS actions, which is initially empty. We frame this as an optimization problem, and propose two algorithms to address it: Action Unification (AU) and Online Action Recognition through Unification (OARU). The former builds on logic unification and generalizes two input actions using weighted partial MaxSAT. The latter looks for an action within the library that explains an observed transition. If there is such action, it generalizes it making use of AU, building in this way an AU hierarchy. Otherwise, OARU inserts a Trivial Grounded Action (TGA) in the library that explains just that transition. We report results on benchmarks from the International Planning Competition and PDDLGym, where OARU recognizes actions accurately with respect to expert knowledge, and shows real-time performance.

General Policies, Serializations, and Planning Width Artificial Intelligence

It has been observed that in many of the benchmark planning domains, atomic goals can be reached with a simple polynomial exploration procedure, called IW, that runs in time exponential in the problem width. Such problems have indeed a bounded width: a width that does not grow with the number of problem variables and is often no greater than two. Yet, while the notion of width has become part of the state-of-the-art planning algorithms like BFWS, there is still no good explanation for why so many benchmark domains have bounded width. In this work, we address this question by relating bounded width and serialized width to ideas of generalized planning, where general policies aim to solve multiple instances of a planning problem all at once. We show that bounded width is a property of planning domains that admit optimal general policies in terms of features that are explicitly or implicitly represented in the domain encoding. The results are extended to much larger class of domains with bounded serialized width where the general policies do not have to be optimal. The study leads also to a new simple, meaningful, and expressive language for specifying domain serializations in the form of policy sketches which can be used for encoding domain control knowledge by hand or for learning it from traces. The use of sketches and the meaning of the theoretical results are all illustrated through a number of examples.

Generative Adversarial Network based Heuristics for Sampling-based Path Planning Artificial Intelligence

Sampling-based path planning is a popular methodology for robot path planning. With a uniform sampling strategy to explore the state space, a feasible path can be found without the complex geometric modeling of the configuration space. However, the quality of initial solution is not guaranteed and the convergence speed to the optimal solution is slow. In this paper, we present a novel image-based path planning algorithm to overcome these limitations. Specifically, a generative adversarial network (GAN) is designed to take the environment map (denoted as RGB image) as the input without other preprocessing works. The output is also an RGB image where the promising region (where a feasible path probably exists) is segmented. This promising region is utilized as a heuristic to achieve nonuniform sampling for the path planner. We conduct a number of simulation experiments to validate the effectiveness of the proposed method, and the results demonstrate that our method performs much better in terms of the quality of initial solution and the convergence speed to the optimal solution. Furthermore, apart from the environments similar to the training set, our method also works well on the environments which are very different from the training set.

Learning from Experience for Rapid Generation of Local Car Maneuvers Artificial Intelligence

Being able to rapidly respond to the changing scenes and traffic situations by generating feasible local paths is of pivotal importance for car autonomy. We propose to train a deep neural network (DNN) to plan feasible and nearly-optimal paths for kinematically constrained vehicles in small constant time. Our DNN model is trained using a novel weakly supervised approach and a gradient-based policy search. On real and simulated scenes and a large set of local planning problems, we demonstrate that our approach outperforms the existing planners with respect to the number of successfully completed tasks. While the path generation time is about 40 ms, the generated paths are smooth and comparable to those obtained from conventional path planners.

Efficient Heuristic Generation for Robot Path Planning with Recurrent Generative Model Artificial Intelligence

Robot path planning is difficult to solve due to the contradiction between optimality of results and complexity of algorithms, even in 2D environments. To find an optimal path, the algorithm needs to search all the state space, which costs a lot of computation resource. To address this issue, we present a novel recurrent generative model (RGM) which generates efficient heuristic to reduce the search efforts of path planning algorithm. This RGM model adopts the framework of general generative adversarial networks (GAN), which consists of a novel generator that can generate heuristic by refining the outputs recurrently and two discriminators that check the connectivity and safety properties of heuristic. We test the proposed RGM module in various 2D environments to demonstrate its effectiveness and efficiency. The results show that the RGM successfully generates appropriate heuristic in both seen and new unseen maps with a high accuracy, demonstrating the good generalization ability of this model. We also compare the rapidly-exploring random tree star (RRT*) with generated heuristic and the conventional RRT* in four different maps, showing that the generated heuristic can guide the algorithm to find both initial and optimal solution in a faster and more efficient way.

Obstacle avoidance and path finding for mobile robot navigation Artificial Intelligence

This paper investigates different methods to detect obstacles ahead of a robot using a camera in the robot, an aerial camera, and an ultrasound sensor. We also explored various efficient path finding methods for the robot to navigate to the target source. Single and multi-iteration angle-based navigation algorithms were developed. The theta-based path finding algorithms were compared with the Dijkstra Algorithm and their performance were analyzed.

Conditional Generative Adversarial Networks for Optimal Path Planning Artificial Intelligence

Path planning plays an important role in autonomous robot systems. Effective understanding of the surrounding environment and efficient generation of optimal collision-free path are both critical parts for solving path planning problem. Although conventional sampling-based algorithms, such as the rapidly-exploring random tree (RRT) and its improved optimal version (RRT*), have been widely used in path planning problems because of their ability to find a feasible path in even complex environments, they fail to find an optimal path efficiently. To solve this problem and satisfy the two aforementioned requirements, we propose a novel learning-based path planning algorithm which consists of a novel generative model based on the conditional generative adversarial networks (CGAN) and a modified RRT* algorithm (denoted by CGANRRT*). Given the map information, our CGAN model can generate an efficient possibility distribution of feasible paths, which can be utilized by the CGAN-RRT* algorithm to find the optimal path with a non-uniform sampling strategy. The CGAN model is trained by learning from ground truth maps, each of which is generated by putting all the results of executing RRT algorithm 50 times on one raw map. We demonstrate the efficient performance of this CGAN model by testing it on two groups of maps and comparing CGAN-RRT* algorithm with conventional RRT* algorithm.

DeepSym: Deep Symbol Generation and Rule Learning from Unsupervised Continuous Robot Interaction for Planning Artificial Intelligence

Autonomous discovery of discrete symbols and rules from continuous interaction experience is a crucial building block of robot AI, but remains a challenging problem. Solving it will overcome the limitations in scalability, flexibility, and robustness of manually-designed symbols and rules, and will constitute a substantial advance towards autonomous robots that can learn and reason at abstract levels in open-ended environments. Towards this goal, we propose a novel and general method that finds action-grounded, discrete object and effect categories and builds probabilistic rules over them that can be used in complex action planning. Our robot interacts with single and multiple objects using a given action repertoire and observes the effects created in the environment. In order to form action-grounded object, effect, and relational categories, we employ a binarized bottleneck layer of a predictive, deep encoder-decoder network that takes as input the image of the scene and the action applied, and generates the resulting object displacements in the scene (action effects) in pixel coordinates. The binary latent vector represents a learned, action-driven categorization of objects. To distill the knowledge represented by the neural network into rules useful for symbolic reasoning, we train a decision tree to reproduce its decoder function. From its branches we extract probabilistic rules and represent them in PPDDL, allowing off-the-shelf planners to operate on the robot's sensorimotor experience. Our system is verified in a physics-based 3d simulation environment where a robot arm-hand system learned symbols that can be interpreted as 'rollable', 'insertable', 'larger-than' from its push and stack actions; and generated effective plans to achieve goals such as building towers from given cubes, balls, and cups using off-the-shelf probabilistic planners.