skip to main content

Title: Collaborative Semantic Data Fusion with Dynamically Observable Decision Processes
This work presents novel techniques for tightly integrated online information fusion and planning in human-autonomy teams operating in partially known environments. Motivated by dynamic target search problems, we present a new map-based sketch interface for online soft-hard data fusion. This interface lets human collaborators efficiently update map information and continuously build their own highly flexible ad hoc dictionaries for making language-based semantic observations, which can be actively exploited by autonomous agents in optimal search and information gathering problems. We formally link these capabilities to POMDP algorithms for optimal planning under uncertainty, and develop a new Dynamically Observable Monte Carlo planning (DOMCP) algorithm as an efficient means for updating online sampling-based planning policies for POMDPs with non-static observation models. DOMCP is validated on a small scale robot localization problem, and then demonstrated with our new user interface on a simulated dynamic target search scenario in a partially known outdoor environment.
Authors:
;
Award ID(s):
1650468
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10222330
Journal Name:
2019 22th International Conference on Information Fusion (FUSION)
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. In search applications, autonomous unmanned vehicles must be able to efficiently reacquire and localize mobile targets that can remain out of view for long periods of time in large spaces. As such, all available information sources must be actively leveraged - including imprecise but readily available semantic observations provided by humans. To achieve this, this work develops and validates a novel collaborative human-machine sensing solution for dynamic target search. Our approach uses continuous partially observable Markov decision process (CPOMDP) planning to generate vehicle trajectories that optimally exploit imperfect detection data from onboard sensors, as well as semantic natural language observationsmore »that can be specifically requested from human sensors. The key innovation is a scalable hierarchical Gaussian mixture model formulation for efficiently solving CPOMDPs with semantic observations in continuous dynamic state spaces. The approach is demonstrated and validated with a real human-robot team engaged in dynamic indoor target search and capture scenarios on a custom testbed.« less
  2. In planning problems, it is often challenging to fully model the desired specifications. In particular, in human-robot interaction, such difficulty may arise due to human's preferences that are either private or complex to model. Consequently, the resulting objective function can only partially capture the specifications and optimizing that may lead to poor performance with respect to the true specifications. Motivated by this challenge, we formulate a problem, called diverse stochastic planning, that aims to generate a set of representative---small and diverse---behaviors that are near-optimal with respect to the known objective. In particular, the problem aims to compute a set ofmore »diverse and near-optimal policies for systems modeled by a Markov decision process. We cast the problem as a constrained nonlinear optimization for which we propose a solution relying on the Frank-Wolfe method. We then prove that the proposed solution converges to a stationary point and demonstrate its efficacy in several planning problems.« less
  3. Crystal structure prediction is now playing an increasingly important role in the discovery of new materials or crystal engineering. Global optimization methods such as genetic algorithms (GAs) and particle swarm optimization have been combined with first-principles free energy calculations to predict crystal structures given the composition or only a chemical system. While these approaches can exploit certain crystal patterns such as symmetry and periodicity in their search process, they usually do not exploit the large amount of implicit rules and constraints of atom configurations embodied in the large number of known crystal structures. They currently can only handle crystal structuremore »prediction of relatively small systems. Inspired by the knowledge-rich protein structure prediction approach, herein we explore whether known geometric constraints such as the atomic contact map of a target crystal material can help predict its structure given its space group information. We propose a global optimization-based algorithm, CMCrystal, for crystal structure (atomic coordinates) reconstruction based on atomic contact maps. Based on extensive experiments using six global optimization algorithms, we show that it is viable to reconstruct the crystal structure given the atomic contact map for some crystal materials, but more geometric or physicochemical constraints are needed to achieve the successful reconstruction of other materials.« less
  4. This work studies online learning-based trajectory planning for multiple autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to estimate a water parameter field of interest in the under-ice environment. A centralized system is considered, where several fixed access points on the ice layer are introduced as gateways for communications between the AUVs and a remote data fusion center. We model the water parameter field of interest as a Gaussian process with unknown hyper-parameters. The AUV trajectories for sampling are determined on an epoch-by-epoch basis. At the end of each epoch, the access points relay the observed field samples from all the AUVs to themore »fusion center, which computes the posterior distribution of the field based on the Gaussian process regression and estimates the field hyper-parameters. The optimal trajectories of all the AUVs in the next epoch are determined to maximize a long-term reward that is defined based on the field uncertainty reduction and the AUV mobility cost, subject to the kinematics constraint, the communication constraint and the sensing area constraint. We formulate the adaptive trajectory planning problem as a Markov decision process (MDP). A reinforcement learning-based online learning algorithm is designed to determine the optimal AUV trajectories in a constrained continuous space. Simulation results show that the proposed learning-based trajectory planning algorithm has performance similar to a benchmark method that assumes perfect knowledge of the field hyper-parameters.« less
  5. In many real-world scenarios, the time it takes for a mobile agent, e.g., a robot, to move from one location to another may vary due to exogenous events and be difficult to predict accurately. Planning in such scenarios is challenging, especially in the context of Multi-Agent Pathfinding (MAPF), where the goal is to find paths to multiple agents and temporal coordination is necessary to avoid collisions. In this work, we consider a MAPF problem with this form of time uncertainty, where we are only given upper and lower bounds on the time it takes each agent to move. The objectivemore »is to find a safe solution, which is a solution that can be executed by all agents and is guaranteed to avoid collisions. We propose two complete and optimal algorithms for finding safe solutions based on well-known MAPF algorithms, namely, A* with Operator Decomposition (A* + OD) and Conflict-Based Search (CBS). Experimentally, we observe that on several standard MAPF grids the CBS-based algorithm performs better. We also explore the option of online replanning in this context, i.e., modifying the agents' plans during execution, to reduce the overall execution cost. We consider two online settings: (a) when an agent can sense the current time and its current location, and (b) when the agents can also communicate seamlessly during execution. For each setting, we propose a replanning algorithm and analyze its behavior theoretically and empirically. Our experimental evaluation confirms that indeed online replanning in both settings can significantly reduce solution cost.« less