On theories of human decision making and the role of affects

Ian D. Roberts, Cendri A. Hutcherson, Affect and Decision Making: Insights and Predictions from Computational Models, Trends in Cognitive Sciences,
Volume 23, Issue 7, 2019, Pages 602-614 DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2019.04.005.

In recent years interest in integrating the affective and decision sciences has skyrocketed. Immense progress has been made, but the complexities of each field, which can multiply when combined, present a significant obstacle. A carefully defined framework for integration is needed. The shift towards computational modeling in decision science provides a powerful basis and a path forward, but one whose synergistic potential will only be fully realized by drawing on the theoretical richness of the affective sciences. Reviewing research using a popular computational model of choice (the drift diffusion model), we discuss how mapping concepts to parameters reduces conceptual ambiguity and reveals novel hypotheses.

On the not clear distinction between fast/shallow and slow/deep cognitive processing

Adrianna C. Jenkins, Rethinking Cognitive Load: A Default-Mode Network Perspective,Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 23, Issue 7, 2019, Pages 531-533 DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2019.04.008.

Typical cognitive load tasks are now known to deactivate the brain’s default-mode network (DMN). This raises the possibility that apparent effects of cognitive load could arise from disruptions of DMN processes, including social cognition. Cognitive load studies are reconsidered, with reinterpretations of past research and implications for dual-process theory.

A brief (and relatively shallow) account of computer programming as a cognitive ability

Evelina Fedorenko, Anna Ivanova, Riva Dhamala, Marina Umaschi Bers, The Language of Programming: A Cognitive Perspective, Trends in Cognitive Sciences,
Volume 23, Issue 7, 2019, Pages 525-528 DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2019.04.010.

Computer programming is becoming essential across fields. Traditionally grouped with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, programming also bears parallels to natural languages. These parallels may translate into overlapping processing mechanisms. Investigating the cognitive basis of programming is important for understanding the human mind and could transform education practices.

A related work with a nice taxonomy of robot navigation algorithms

Eduardo J. Molinos, Ángel Llamazares, Manuel Ocaña Dynamic window based approaches for avoiding obstacles in moving, Robotics and Autonomous Systems,
Volume 118, 2019, Pages 112-130 DOI: 10.1016/j.robot.2019.05.003.

In recent years, Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) have been widely used as service robots. Unlike industrial robots, which are situated in fixed and controlled positions, UGVs work in dynamic environments, sharing the environment with other vehicles and humans. These robots should be able to move without colliding with any obstacle, assuring its integrity and the environment safety. In this paper, we propose two adaptations of the classical Dynamic Window algorithm for dealing with dynamic obstacles like Dynamic Window for Dynamic Obstacles (DW4DO) and Dynamic Window for Dynamic Obstacles Tree (DW4DOT). These new algorithms are compared with our previous algorithms based on Curvature Velocity Methods: Predicted Curvature Velocity Method (PCVM) and Dynamic Curvature Velocity Method (DCVM). Proposals have been validated in both simulated and real environment using several robotic platforms.

A Survey of Knowledge Representation in Service Robotics

avid Paulius, Yu Sun, A Survey of Knowledge Representation in Service Robotics,Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Volume 118, 2019, Pages 13-30 DOI: 10.1016/j.robot.2019.03.005.

Within the realm of service robotics, researchers have placed a great amount of effort into learning, understanding, and representing motions as manipulations for task execution by robots. The task of robot learning and problem-solving is very broad, as it integrates a variety of tasks such as object detection, activity recognition, task/motion planning, localization, knowledge representation and retrieval, and the intertwining of perception/vision and machine learning techniques. In this paper, we solely focus on knowledge representations and notably how knowledge is typically gathered, represented, and reproduced to solve problems as done by researchers in the past decades. In accordance with the definition of knowledge representations, we discuss the key distinction between such representations and useful learning models that have extensively been introduced and studied in recent years, such as machine learning, deep learning, probabilistic modeling, and semantic graphical structures. Along with an overview of such tools, we discuss the problems which have existed in robot learning and how they have been built and used as solutions, technologies or developments (if any) which have contributed to solving them. Finally, we discuss key principles that should be considered when designing an effective knowledge representation.

A novel path planning method for both global and local planning with provable behavior, and a nice survey of existing navigation methods

Sgorbissa, A., Integrated robot planning, path following, and obstacle avoidance in two and three dimensions: wheeled robots, underwater vehicles, and multicopters, The International Journal of Robotics Research, DOI: 10.1177/0278364919846910.

We propose an innovative, integrated solution to path planning, path following, and obstacle avoidance that is suitable both for 2D and 3D navigation. The proposed method takes as input a generic curve connecting a start and a goal position, and is able to find a corresponding path from start to goal in a maze-like environment even in the absence of global information, it guarantees convergence to the path with kinematic control, and finally avoids locally sensed obstacles without becoming trapped in deadlocks. This is achieved by computing a closed-form expression in which the control variables are a continuous function of the input curve, the robot’s state, and the distance of all the locally sensed obstacles. Specifically, we introduce a novel formalism for describing the path in two and three dimensions, as well as a computationally efficient method for path deformation (based only on local sensor readings) that is able to find a path to the goal even when such path cannot be produced through continuous deformations of the original. The article provides formal proofs of all the properties above, as well as simulated results in a simulated environment with a wheeled robot, an underwater vehicle, and a multicopter.

Grid maps with confidence levels

Agha-mohammadi, A., Heiden, E., Hausman, K., & Sukhatme, G., Confidence-rich grid mapping, The International Journal of Robotics Research, DOI: 10.1177/0278364919839762.

Representing the environment is a fundamental task in enabling robots to act autonomously in unknown environments. In this work, we present confidence-rich mapping (CRM), a new algorithm for spatial grid-based mapping of the 3D environment. CRM augments the occupancy level at each voxel by its confidence value. By explicitly storing and evolving confidence values using the CRM filter, CRM extends traditional grid mapping in three ways: first, it partially maintains the probabilistic dependence among voxels; second, it relaxes the need for hand-engineering an inverse sensor model and proposes the concept of sensor cause model that can be derived in a principled manner from the forward sensor model; third, and most importantly, it provides consistent confidence values over the occupancy estimation that can be reliably used in collision risk evaluation and motion planning. CRM runs online and enables mapping environments where voxels might be partially occupied. We demonstrate the performance of the method on various datasets and environments in simulation and on physical systems. We show in real-world experiments that, in addition to achieving maps that are more accurate than traditional methods, the proposed filtering scheme demonstrates a much higher level of consistency between its error and the reported confidence, hence, enabling a more reliable collision risk evaluation for motion planning.

The concepts of agency and ownership in cognitive maps, and a nice survey of cognitive maps

Shahar Arzy, Daniel L. Schacter, Self-Agency and Self-Ownership in Cognitive Mapping, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 23, Issue 6, 2019, Pages 476-487, DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2019.04.003.

The concepts of agency of one’s actions and ownership of one’s experience have proved useful in relating body representations to bodily consciousness. Here we apply these concepts to cognitive maps. Agency is defined as ‘the sense that I am the one who is generating the experience represented on a cognitive map’, while ownership is defined as ‘the sense that I am the one who is undergoing an experience, represented on a cognitive map’. The roles of agency and ownership are examined with respect to the transformation between egocentric and allocentric representations and the underlying neurocognitive and computational mechanisms; and within the neuropsychiatric domain, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other memory-related disorders, in which the senses of agency and ownership may be disrupted.

An orientation sensor for robot navigation that uses the sky

Julien Dupeyroux, Stéphane Viollet, Julien R. Serres, An ant-inspired celestial compass applied to autonomous outdoor robot navigation, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Volume 117, 2019, Pages 40-56, DOI: 10.1016/j.robot.2019.04.007.

Desert ants use the polarization of skylight and a combination of stride and ventral optic flow integration processes to track the nest and food positions when traveling, achieving outstanding performances. Navigation sensors such as global positioning systems and inertial measurement units still have disadvantages such as their low resolution and drift. Taking our inspiration from ants, we developed a 2-pixel celestial compass which computes the heading angle of a mobile robot in the ultraviolet range. The output signals obtained with this optical compass were investigated under various weather and ultraviolet conditions and compared with those obtained on a magnetometer in the vicinity of our laboratory. After being embedded on-board the robot, the sensor was first used to compensate for random yaw disturbances. We then used the compass to keep the Hexabot robot’s heading angle constant in a straight forward walking task over a flat terrain while its walking movements were imposing yaw disturbances. Experiments performed under various meteorological conditions showed the occurrence of steady state heading angle errors ranging from 0.3∘ (with a clear sky) to 2.9∘ (under changeable sky conditions). The compass was also tested under canopies and showed a strong ability to determine the robot’s heading while most of the sky was hidden by the foliage. Lastly, a waterproof, mono-pixel version of the sensor was designed and successfully tested in a preliminary underwater benchmark test. These results suggest this new optical compass shows great precision and reliability in a wide range of outdoor conditions, which makes it highly suitable for autonomous robotic outdoor navigation tasks. A celestial compass and a minimalistic optic flow sensor called M2APix (based on Michaelis–Menten Auto-adaptive Pixels) were therefore embedded on-board our latest insectoid robot called AntBot, to complete the previously mentioned ant-like homing navigation processes. First the robot was displaced manually and made to return to its starting-point on the basis of its absolute knowledge of the coordinates of this point. Lastly, AntBot was tested in fully autonomous navigation experiments, in which it explored its environment and then returned to base using the same sensory modes as those on which desert ants rely. AntBot produced robust, precise localization performances with a homing error as small as 0.7% of the entire trajectory.

Human interaction with the RL process

Celemin, C., Ruiz-del-Solar, J. & Kober, A fast hybrid reinforcement learning framework with human corrective feedback, Auton Robot (2019) 43: 1173, DOI: 10.1007/s10514-018-9786-6.

Reinforcement Learning agents can be supported by feedback from human teachers in the learning loop that guides the learning process. In this work we propose two hybrid strategies of Policy Search Reinforcement Learning and Interactive Machine Learning that benefit from both sources of information, the cost function and the human corrective feedback, for accelerating the convergence and improving the final performance of the learning process. Experiments with simulated and real systems of balancing tasks and a 3 DoF robot arm validate the advantages of the proposed learning strategies: (i) they speed up the convergence of the learning process between 3 and 30 times, saving considerable time during the agent adaptation, and (ii) they allow including non-expert feedback because they have low sensibility to erroneous human advice.