Thanks to the efforts of the robotics and autonomous systems community, robots are becoming ever more capable. There is also an increasing demand from end-users for autonomous service robots that can operate in real environments for extended periods. In the STRANDS project we are tackling this demand head-on by integrating state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and robotics research into mobile service robots, and deploying these systems for long-term installations in security and care environments. Over four deployments, our robots have been operational for a combined duration of 104 days autonomously performing end-user defined tasks, covering 116km in the process. In this article we describe the approach we have used to enable long-term autonomous operation in everyday environments, and how our robots are able to use their long run times to improve their own performance
This paper presents a novel 3DOF pedestrian trajectory prediction approach for autonomous mobile service robots. While most previously reported methods are based on learning of 2D positions in monocular camera images, our approach uses range-finder sensors to learn and predict 3DOF pose trajectories (i.e. 2D position plus 1D rotation within the world coordinate system). Our approach, T-Pose-LSTM (Temporal 3DOF-Pose Long-Short-Term Memory), is trained using long-term data from real-world robot deployments and aims to learn context-dependent (environment-and timespecific) human activities. Our approach incorporates long-term temporal information (i.e. date and time) with short-term pose observations as input. A sequence-to-sequence LSTM encoderdecoder is trained, which encodes observations into LSTM and then decodes as predictions. For deployment, it can perform on-the-fly prediction in real-time. Instead of using manually annotated data, we rely on a robust human detection, tracking and SLAM system, providing us with examples in a global coordinate system. We validate the approach using more than 15K pedestrian trajectories recorded in a care home environment over a period of three months. The experiment shows that the proposed T-Pose-LSTM model advances the state-of-the-art 2D-based method for human trajectory prediction in long-term mobile robot deployments.
Abstract-Autonomous systems will play an essential role in many applications across diverse domains including space, marine, air, field, road, and service robotics. They will assist us in our daily routines and perform dangerous, dirty and dull tasks. However, enabling robotic systems to perform autonomously in complex, real-world scenarios over extended time periods (i.e. weeks, months, or years) poses many challenges. Some of these have been investigated by sub-disciplines of Artificial Intelligence (AI) including navigation & mapping, perception, knowledge representation & reasoning, planning, interaction, and learning. The different sub-disciplines have developed techniques that, when re-integrated within an autonomous system, can enable robots to operate effectively in complex, long-term scenarios. In this paper, we survey and discuss AI techniques as 'enablers' for long-term robot autonomy, current progress in integrating these techniques within long-running robotic systems, and the future challenges and opportunities for AI in long-term autonomy.
A long-standing goal of AI is to enable robots to plan in the face of uncertain and incomplete information, and to handle task failure intelligently. This paper shows how to achieve this. There are two central ideas. The first idea is to organize the robot's knowledge into three layers: instance knowledge at the bottom, commonsense knowledge above that, and diagnostic knowledge on top. Knowledge in a layer above can be used to modify knowledge in the layer(s) below. The second idea is that the robot should represent not just how its actions change the world, but also what it knows or believes. There are two types of knowledge effects the robot's actions can have: epistemic effects (I believe X because I saw it) and assumptions (I'll assume X to be true). By combining the knowledge layers with the models of knowledge effects, we can simultaneously solve several problems in robotics: (i) task planning and execution under uncertainty; (ii) task planning and execution in open worlds; (iii) explaining task failure; (iv) verifying those explanations. The paper describes how the ideas are implemented in a three-layer architecture on a mobile robot platform. The robot implementation was evaluated in five different experiments on object search, mapping, and room categorization.
Abstract-This paper presents a new approach for topological localisation of service robots in dynamic indoor environments. In contrast to typical localisation approaches that rely mainly on static parts of the environment, our approach makes explicit use of information about changes by learning and modelling the spatio-temporal dynamics of the environment where the robot is acting. The proposed spatio-temporal world model is able to predict environmental changes in time, allowing the robot to improve its localisation capabilities during longterm operations in populated environments. To investigate the proposed approach, we have enabled a mobile robot to autonomously patrol a populated environment over a period of one week while building the proposed model representation. We demonstrate that the experience learned during one week is applicable for topological localization even after a hiatus of three months by showing that the localization error rate is significantly lower compared to static environment representations.
A very important aspect in developing robots capable of human-robot interaction (HRI) is the research in natural, human-like communication, and subsequently, the development of a research platform with multiple HRI capabilities for evaluation. Besides a flexible dialog system and speech understanding, an anthropomorphic appearance has the potential to support intuitive usage and understanding of a robot, e.g., human-like facial expressions and deictic gestures can as well be produced and also understood by the robot. As a consequence of our effort in creating an anthropomorphic appearance and to come close to a humanhuman interaction model for a robot, we decided to use human-like sensors, i.e., two cameras and two microphones only, in analogy to human perceptual capabilities too. Despite the challenges resulting from these limits with respect to perception, a robust attention system for tracking and interacting with multiple persons simultaneously in real time is presented. The tracking approach is sufficiently generic to work on robots with varying hardware, as long as stereo audio data and images of a video camera are available. To easily implement different interaction capabilities like deictic gestures, natural adaptive dialogs, and emotion awareness on the robot, we apply a modular integration approach utilizing XML-based data exchange. The paper focuses on our efforts to bring together different interaction concepts and perception capabilities integrated on a humanoid robot to achieve comprehending human-oriented interaction.
Abstract-The analysis and understanding of human-robot joint spatial behaviour (JSB) -such as guiding, approaching, departing, or coordinating movements in narrow spaces -and its communicative and dynamic aspects are key requirements on the road towards more intuitive interaction, safe encounter, and appealing living with mobile robots. This endeavours demand for appropriate models and methodologies to represent JSB and facilitate its analysis. In this paper, we adopt a qualitative trajectory calculus (QTC) as a formal foundation for the analysis and representation of such spatial behaviour of a human and a robot based on a compact encoding of the relative trajectories of two interacting agents in a sequential model. We present this QTC together with a distance measure and a probabilistic behaviour model and outline its usage in an actual JSB study. We argue that the proposed QTC coding scheme and derived methodologies for analysis and modelling are flexible and extensible to be adapted for a variety of other scenarios and studies.
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