A Human–Robot Cooperative Learning System for Easy Installation of Assistant Robots in New Working Environmen

López, Elena; Barea, Rafael; Bergasa, Luis M.; Escudero, María Soledad
Year: 2004
Type of Publication: Article
Journal: Journal of Intelligent {&} Robotic Systems
Volume: 40
Pages: 233-265
ISSN: 0921-0296
Note: 10.1023/B:JINT.0000038952.66083.d1
One of the applications of service robots with a greater social impact is the assistance to elderly or disabled people. In these applications, assistant robots must robustly navigate in structured indoor environments such as hospitals, nursing homes or houses, heading from room to room to carry out different nursing or service tasks. Among the main requirements of these robotic aids, one that will determine its future commercial feasibility, is the easy installation of the robot in new working domains without long, tedious or complex configuration steps. This paper describes the navigation system of the assistant robot called SIRA, developed in the Electronics Department of the University of Alcalá, focusing on the learning module, specially designed to make the installation of the robot easier and faster in new environments. To cope with robustness and reliability requirements, the navigation system uses probabilistic reasoning (POMDPs) to globally localize the robot and to direct its goal-oriented actions. The proposed learning module fast learns the Markov model of a new environment by means of an exploration stage that takes advantage of human–robot interfaces (basically speech) and user–robot cooperation to accelerate model acquisition. The proposed learning method, based on a modification of the EM algorithm, is able to robustly explore new environments with a low number of corridor traversals, as shown in some experiments carried out with SIRA.
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