POMDPs to combine human semantic sensing with robot sensing

Luke Burks, Nisar Ahmed, Ian Loefgren, Luke Barbier, Jeremy Muesing, Jamison McGinley, Sousheel Vunnam, Collaborative human-autonomy semantic sensing through structured POMDP planning, . Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Volume 140, 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.robot.2021.103753.

Autonomous unmanned systems and robots must be able to actively leverage all available information sources — including imprecise but readily available semantic observations provided by human collaborators. This work develops and validates a novel active collaborative human–machine sensing solution for robotic information gathering and optimal decision making problems, with an example implementation of a dynamic target search scenario. Our approach uses continuous partially observable Markov decision process (CPOMDP) planning to generate vehicle trajectories that optimally exploit imperfect detection data from onboard sensors, as well as semantic natural language observations that can be specifically requested from human sensors. The key innovations are a method for the inclusion of a human querying/sensing model in a CPOMDP based autonomous decision making process, as well as a scalable hierarchical Gaussian mixture model formulation for efficiently solving CPOMDPs with semantic observations in continuous dynamic state spaces. Unlike previous state-of-the-art approaches this allows planning in large, complex, highly segmented environments. Our solution is demonstrated and validated with a real human–robot team engaged in dynamic indoor target search and capture scenarios on a custom testbed..

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