- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- The International Journal of Robotics Research
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Contemporary approaches to perception, planning, estimation, and control have allowed robots to operate robustly as our remote surrogates in uncertain, unstructured environments. This progress now creates an opportunity for robots to operate not only in isolation, but also with and alongside humans in our complex environments. Realizing this opportunity requires an efficient and flexible medium through which humans can communicate with collaborative robots. Natural language provides one such medium, and through significant progress in statistical methods for natural-language understanding, robots are now able to interpret a diverse array of free-form navigation, manipulation, and mobile-manipulation commands. However, most contemporary approaches require a detailed, prior spatial-semantic map of the robot’s environment that models the space of possible referents of an utterance. Consequently, these methods fail when robots are deployed in new, previously unknown, or partially-observed environments, particularly when mental models of the environment differ between the human operator and the robot. This paper provides a comprehensive description of a novel learning framework that allows field and service robots to interpret and correctly execute natural-language instructions in a priori unknown, unstructured environments. Integral to our approach is its use of language as a “sensor”—inferring spatial, topological, and semantic information implicit in natural-language utterances and then exploiting this information to learn a distribution over a latent environment model. We incorporate this distribution in a probabilistic, language grounding model and infer a distribution over a symbolic representation of the robot’s action space, consistent with the utterance. We use imitation learning to identify a belief-space policy that reasons over the environment and behavior distributions. We evaluate our framework through a variety of different navigation and mobile-manipulation experiments involving an unmanned ground vehicle, a robotic wheelchair, and a mobile manipulator, demonstrating that the algorithm can follow natural-language instructions without prior knowledge of the environment.more » « less
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In Physical Human–Robot Interaction (pHRI), the need to learn the robot’s motor-control dynamics is associated with increased cognitive load. Eye-tracking metrics can help understand the dynamics of fluctuating mental workload over the course of learning.
The aim of this study was to test eye-tracking measures’ sensitivity and reliability to variations in task difficulty, as well as their performance-prediction capability, in physical human–robot collaboration tasks involving an industrial robot for object comanipulation.
Participants (9M, 9F) learned to coperform a virtual pick-and-place task with a bimanual robot over multiple trials. Joint stiffness of the robot was manipulated to increase motor-coordination demands. The psychometric properties of eye-tracking measures and their ability to predict performance was investigated.
Stationary Gaze Entropy and pupil diameter were the most reliable and sensitive measures of workload associated with changes in task difficulty and learning. Increased task difficulty was more likely to result in a robot-monitoring strategy. Eye-tracking measures were able to predict the occurrence of success or failure in each trial with 70% sensitivity and 71% accuracy.
The sensitivity and reliability of eye-tracking measures was acceptable, although values were lower than those observed in cognitive domains. Measures of gaze behaviors indicative of visual monitoring strategies were most sensitive to task difficulty manipulations, and should be explored further for the pHRI domain where motor-control and internal-model formation will likely be strong contributors to workload.
Future collaborative robots can adapt to human cognitive state and skill-level measured using eye-tracking measures of workload and visual attention.
We study open-world 3D scene understanding, a family of tasks that require agents to reason about their 3D environment with an open-set vocabulary and out-of-domain visual inputs - a critical skill for robots to operate in the unstructured 3D world. Towards this end, we propose Semantic Abstraction (SemAbs), a framework that equips 2D Vision-Language Models (VLMs) with new 3D spatial capabilities, while maintaining their zero-shot robustness. We achieve this abstraction using relevancy maps extracted from CLIP, and learn 3D spatial and geometric reasoning skills on top of those abstractions in a semantic-agnostic manner. We demonstrate the usefulness of SemAbs on two open-world 3D scene understanding tasks: 1) completing partially observed objects and 2) localizing hidden objects from language descriptions. Experiments show that SemAbs can generalize to novel vocabulary, materials/lighting, classes, and domains (i.e., real-world scans) from training on limited 3D synthetic data.more » « less
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