Bidirectional Human-Robot Handovers

Following Directions in Unknown Environments

During my thesis I studied robots following natural language directions in unknown unstructured environments. These two videos show CoBot following natural language directions through an unknown environment. For more details, see our ICRA 2013 paper.

Here, the policy initially makes a mistake (going straight instead of turning left), but the policy recovers; after the robot reaches the end of the hallway it backtracks to the correct turn and continues with the rest of the direction.

Inferring Maps from Natural Language

Working with roboticists at MIT, we developed an approach to extend the robot’s sensor range by using the information contained in the natural language instruction.

Here, the wheelchair in the video below is instructed to “go to the cone that is behind the trashcan.” Our approach using an inferred map distribution correctly models the ambiguity in the language (there are two trashcans in the environment), and the belief space policy is able to correctly follow the direction even though the robot initially goes behind the incorrect trashcan.

Here the wheelchair follows the command “go past the kitchen down the hallway and take a right” starting with a completely unknown map. Once the robot senses it is in a hallway, it uses the implicit information contained in the direction to update its distribution of possible locations for the kitchen. The belief space policy uses this information to take a sequence of actions towards the destination. For more details, see our ICRA 2015 paper.