Pecora, Federico


Norms, Institutions, and Robots

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Interactions within human societies are usually regulated by social norms. If robots are to be accepted into human society, it is essential that they are aware of and capable of reasoning about social norms. In this paper, we focus on how to represent social norms in societies with humans and robots, and how artificial agents such as robots can reason about social norms in order to plan appropriate behavior. We use the notion of institution as a way to formally define and encapsulate norms. We provide a formal framework built around the notion of institution. The framework distinguishes between abstract norms and their semantics in a concrete domain, hence allowing the use of the same institution across physical domains and agent types. It also provides a formal computational framework for norm verification, planning, and plan execution in a domain.


A Loosely-Coupled Approach for Multi-Robot Coordination, Motion Planning and Control

AAAI Conferences

Deploying fleets of autonomous robots in real-world applications requires addressing three problems: motion planning, coordination, and control. Application-specific features of the environment and robots often narrow down the possible motion planning and control methods that can be used. This paper proposes a lightweight coordination method that implements a high-level controller for a fleet of potentially heterogeneous robots. Very few assumptions are made on robot controllers, which are required only to be able to accept set point updates and to report their current state. The approach can be used with any motion planning method for computing kinematically-feasible paths. Coordination uses heuristics to update priorities while robots are in motion, and a simple model of robot dynamics to guarantee dynamic feasibility. The approach avoids a priori discretization of the environment or of robot paths, allowing robots to "follow each other" through critical sections. We validate the method formally and experimentally with different motion planners and robot controllers, in simulation and with real robots.


Context Recognition in Multiple Occupants Situations: Detecting the Number of Agents in a Smart Home Environment with Simple Sensors

AAAI Conferences

Context-recognition and activity recognition systems in multi-user environments such as smart homes, usually assume to know the number of occupants in the environment. However, being able to count the number of users in the environment is important in order to accurately recognize the activities of (groups of) agents. For smart environments without cameras, the problem of counting the number of agents is non-trivial. This is in part due to the difficulty of using a single non-vision based sensors to discriminate between one or several persons, and thus information from several sensors must be combined in order to reason about the presence of several agents. In this paper we address the problem of counting the number of agents in a topologically known environment using simple sensors that can indicate anonymous human presence. To do so, we connect an ontology to a probabilistic model (a Hidden Markov Model) in order to estimate the number of agents in each section of the environment. We evaluate our methods on a smart home setup where a number of motion and pressure sensors are distributed in various rooms of the home.


Robots and Bananas: Exploring Deliberation in Cognitive Robots

AAAI Conferences

Under what conditions should a cognitive robot act? How do we define "opportunities" for robot action? How can we characterize their properties? In this po- sition paper, we offer an initial apparatus to formalize opportunities and to frame this discussion.


Grandpa Hates Robots - Interaction Constraints for Planning in Inhabited Environments

AAAI Conferences

Consider a family whose home is equipped with several service robots. The actions planned for the robots must adhere to Interaction Constraints (ICs) relating them to human activities and preferences. These constraints must be sufficiently expressive to model both temporal and logical dependencies among robot actions and human behavior, and must accommodate incomplete information regarding human activities. In this paper we introduce an approach for automatically generating plans that are conformant wrt. given ICs and partially specified human activities. The approach allows to separate causal reasoning about actions from reasoning about ICs, and we illustrate the computational advantage this brings with experiments on a large-scale (semi-)realistic household domain with hundreds of human activities and several robots.


Integrated Motion Planning and Coordination for Industrial Vehicles

AAAI Conferences

A growing interest in the industrial sector for autonomous ground vehicles has prompted significant investment in fleet management systems. Such systems need to accommodate on-line externally imposed temporal and spatial requirements, and to adhere to them even in the presence of contingencies. Moreover, a fleet management system should ensure correctness, i.e., refuse to commit to requirements that cannot be satisfied. We present an approach to obtain sets of alternative execution patterns (called trajectory envelopes) which provide these guarantees. The approach relies on a constraint-based representation shared among multiple solvers, each of which progressively refines trajectory envelopes following a least commitment principle.


Configuration Planning with Multiple Dynamic Goals

AAAI Conferences

We propose an approach to configuration planning for robotic systems in which plans are represented as constraint networks and planning is defined as search in the space of such networks. The approach supports reasoning about time, resources, and information dependencies between actions. In addition, the system can leverage the flexibility of such networks at execution time to support dynamic goal posting and re-planning.


An Ontology-based Multi-level Robot Architecture for Learning from Experiences

AAAI Conferences

One way to improve the robustness and flexibility of robot performance is to let the robot learn from its experiences. In this paper, we describe the architecture and knowledge-representation framework for a service robot being developed in the EU project RACE, and present examples illustrating how learning from experiences will be achieved. As a unique innovative feature, the framework combines memory records of low-level robot activities with ontology-based high-level semantic descriptions.