Shared autonomy where the target is predicted with POMDPs to cope with uncertain predictions

Shervin Javdani, Henny Admoni, Stefania Pellegrinelli, Siddhartha S. Srinivasa, and J. Andrew Bagnell Shared autonomy via hindsight optimization for teleoperation and teaming, The International Journal of Robotics Research Vol 37, Issue 7, pp. 717 – 742 DOI: 10.1177/0278364918776060.

In shared autonomy, a user and autonomous system work together to achieve shared goals. To collaborate effectively, the autonomous system must know the user’s goal. As such, most prior works follow a predict-then-act model, first predicting the user’s goal with high confidence, then assisting given that goal. Unfortunately, confidently predicting the user’s goal may not be possible until they have nearly achieved it, causing predict-then-act methods to provide little assistance. However, the system can often provide useful assistance even when confidence for any single goal is low (e.g. move towards multiple goals). In this work, we formalize this insight by modeling shared autonomy as a partially observable Markov decision process (POMDP), providing assistance that minimizes the expected cost-to-go with an unknown goal. As solving this POMDP optimally is intractable, we use hindsight optimization to approximate. We apply our framework to both shared-control teleoperation and human–robot teaming. Compared with predict-then-act methods, our method achieves goals faster, requires less user input, decreases user idling time, and results in fewer user–robot collisions.

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