Spending a day in someone else's shoes can help us to learn what makes them tick. Now the same approach is being used to develop a better understanding between humans and robots, to enable them to work together as a team. Robots are increasingly being used in the manufacturing industry to perform tasks that bring them into closer contact with humans. But while a great deal of work is being done to ensure robots and humans can operate safely side-by-side, more effort is needed to make robots smart enough to work effectively with people, says Julie Shah, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT and head of the Interactive Robotics Group in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). "People aren't robots, they don't do things the same way every single time," Shah says.
Nikolaidis, Stefanos (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) | Gu, Keren (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) | Ramakrishnan, Ramya (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) | Shah, Julie (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Research on POMDP formulations for collaborative tasks in game AI applications (Nguyen et al. 2011; Macindoe, The development of new industrial robotic systems that operate Kaelbling, and Lozano-Pérez 2012; Silver and Veness in the same physical space as people highlights the 2010) also assumed a known human model. Additionally, emerging need for robots that can integrate seamlessly into previous partially observable formalisms (Ong et al. 2010; human group dynamics by adapting to the personalized style Bandyopadhyay et al. 2013; Broz, Nourbakhsh, and Simmons of human teammates. This adaptation requires learning a statistical 2011; Fern and Tadepalli 2010; Nguyen et al. 2011; model of human behavior and integrating this model Macindoe, Kaelbling, and Lozano-Pérez 2012) in assistive into the decision-making algorithm of the robot in a principled or collaborative tasks represented the preference or intention way. We present a framework for automatically learning of the human for their own actions, rather than those of human user models from joint-action demonstrations the robot, as the partially observable variable.
Robots are increasingly introduced to work in concert with people in high-intensity domains, such as manufacturing, space exploration and hazardous environments. Although there are numerous studies on human teamwork and coordination in these settings, very little prior work exists on applying these models to human-robot interaction. This paper presents results from ongoing work aimed at translating qualitative methods from human factors engineering into computational models that can be applied to human-robot teaming. We describe a statistical approach to learning patterns of strong and weak agreements in human planning meetings that achieves up to 94% prediction accuracy. We also formulate a human-robot interactive planning method that emulates cross-training, a training strategy widely used in human teams. Results from human subject experiments show statistically significant improvements on team fluency metrics, compared to standard reinforcement learning techniques. Results from these two studies support the approach of modeling and applying common practices in human teaming to achieve more effective and fluent human-robot teaming.
We present a framework for learning human user models from joint-action demonstrations that enables the robot to compute a robust policy for a collaborative task with a human. The learning takes place completely automatically, without any human intervention. First, we describe the clustering of demonstrated action sequences into different human types using an unsupervised learning algorithm. These demonstrated sequences are also used by the robot to learn a reward function that is representative for each type, through the employment of an inverse reinforcement learning algorithm. The learned model is then used as part of a Mixed Observability Markov Decision Process formulation, wherein the human type is a partially observable variable. With this framework, we can infer, either offline or online, the human type of a new user that was not included in the training set, and can compute a policy for the robot that will be aligned to the preference of this new user and will be robust to deviations of the human actions from prior demonstrations. Finally we validate the approach using data collected in human subject experiments, and conduct proof-of-concept demonstrations in which a person performs a collaborative task with a small industrial robot.
Recent years have seen significant technical progress on robot planning, enabling robots to compute actions and motions to accomplish challenging tasks involving driving, flying, walking, or manipulating objects. However, robots that have been commercially deployed in the real world typically have no or minimal planning capability. These robots are often manually programmed, teleoperated, or programmed to follow simple rules. Although these robots are highly successful in their respective niches, a lack of planning capabilities limits the range of tasks for which currently deployed robots can be used. In this article, we highlight key conclusions from a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation in October 2013 that summarize opportunities and key challenges in robot planning and include challenge problems identified in the workshop that can help guide future research toward making robot planning more deployable in the real world.