AI News, Helping Robots Express Themselves When They Fail

Helping Robots Express Themselves When They Fail

For people who work with robots, this is normal and expected, but for everyone else, it’s not immediately clear just how terrible robots are, especially if the robot in question looks human-like enough to generate expectations of human-like capability.

Bimanual mobile manipulators like PR2 are particularly bad, because with heads and bodies and arms, it’s easy to look at them and think that they should have no problem doing all kinds of things.And then, of course, comes the inevitable disappointment when you realize that (among other things) round doorknobs make for an impassable obstacle.

As the researchers explain in their HRI paper: Our key insight is that a robot can express both what it wants to do and why it is incapable of doing it by solving an optimization problem: That of executing a trajectory similar to the trajectory it would have executed had it been capable, subject to constraints capturing the robot’s limitations.

Once the robot realizes that it is incapable of completing the task, the robot would find some motion that still conveys what the task is and sheds light on the cause of incapability, all without actually making any more progress on lifting the cup or turning the valve.

It won’t surprise you to learn that motions expressing incapability improved both goal recognition and cause of incapability recognition, but what might be more surprising is just how much of a positive improvement these motions made to the overall perception of the robot: Ratings by users about therobot as it failsto perform a task.

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