Service robots will have to accomplish more and more complex, open-ended tasks and regularly acquire new skills. In this work, we propose a new approach to generating plans for such household robots. Instead composing them from atomic actions, we propose to transform task descriptions on web sites like ehow.com into executable robot plans. We present methods for automatically converting the instructions given in natural language into a formal, logic-based representation, for resolving the word senses using the WordNet database and the Cyc ontology, and for exporting the generated plans into the mobile robot's plan language RPL. We discuss the problems of inferring information missing in these descriptions, of grounding the abstract task descriptions in the perception and action system, and we propose techniques for solving them. The whole system works autonomously without human interaction. It has successfully been tested with a set of about 150 natural language directives, of which up to 80% could be correctly transformed.
We present ROBOSHERLOCK, an open source software framework for implementing perception systems for robots performing human-scale everyday manipulation tasks. In ROBOSHERLOCK, perception and interpretation of realistic scenes is formulated as an unstructured information management (UIM) problem. The application of the UIM principle supports the implementation of perception systems that can answer task-relevant queries about objects in a scene, boost object recognition performance by combining the strengths of multiple perception algorithms, support knowledge-enabled reasoning about objects and enable automatic and knowledgedriven generation of processing pipelines. We demonstrate the potential of the proposed framework by three feasibility studies of systems for real-world scene perception that have been built on top of ROBOSHERLOCK.
In this paper we discuss the problem of actionspecific knowledge processing, representation and acquisition by autonomous robots performing everyday activities. We report on a thorough analysis of the household domain which has been performed on a large corpus of natural-language instructions from the Web, which underlines the supreme need of action-specific knowledge for robots acting in those environments. We introduce the concept of Probabilistic Robot Action Cores (PRAC) that are well-suited for encoding such knowledge in a probabilistic first-order knowledge base. We additionally show how such a knowledge base can be acquired by natural language and we address the problems of incompleteness, underspecification and ambiguity of naturalistic action specifications and point out how PRAC models can tackle those.
As the tasks of autonomous manipulation robots get more complex, the tasking of the robots using natural-language instructions becomes more important. Executing such instructions in the way they are meant often requires robots to infer missing, and disambiguate given information using lots of common and commonsense knowledge. In this work, we report on Probabilistic Action Cores (PRAC)  -a framework for learning of and reasoning about action-specific probabilistic knowledge bases that can be learned from hand-labeled instructions to address this problem. In PRAC, knowledge about actions and objects is compactly represented by first-order probabilistic models, which are used to learn a joint probability distribution over the ways in which instructions for a given action verb are formulated. These joint probability distributions are then used to compute the plan instantiation that has the highest probability of producing the intended action given the natural language instruction. Formulating plan interpretation as a conditional probability is a promising approach because we can at the same time infer the plan that is most appropriate for performing the instruction, the refinement of the parameters of the plan on the basis of the information given in the instruction, and automatically fill in missing parameters by inferring their most probable value from the distribution. PRAC has been implemented as a web-based online service on the cloud-robotics platform openEASE .
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