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  1. It is imperative that robots can understand natural language commands issued by humans. Such commands typically contain verbs that signify what action should be performed on a given object and that are applicable to many objects. We propose a method for generalizing manipulation skills to novel objects using verbs. Our method learns a probabilistic classifier that determines whether a given object trajectory can be described by a specific verb. We show that this classifier accurately generalizes to novel object categories with an average accuracy of 76.69% across 13 object categories and 14 verbs. We then perform policy search over the object kinematics to find an object trajectory that maximizes classifier prediction for a given verb. Our method allows a robot to generate a trajectory for a novel object based on a verb, which can then be used as input to a motion planner. We show that our model can generate trajectories that are usable for executing five verb commands applied to novel instances of two different object categories on a real robot. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  2. We introduce RLang, a domain-specific language (DSL) for communicating domain knowledge to an RL agent. Unlike existing RL DSLs that ground to single elements of a decision-making formalism (e.g., the reward function or policy), RLang can specify information about every element of a Markov decision process. We define precise syntax and grounding semantics for RLang, and provide a parser that grounds RLang programs to an algorithm-agnostic partial world model and policy that can be exploited by an RL agent. We provide a series of example RLang programs demonstrating how different RL methods can exploit the resulting knowledge, encompassing model-free and model-based tabular algorithms, policy gradient and value-based methods, hierarchical approaches, and deep methods. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024