Enabling end-users to program new skills on their robot

November 19, 2012

Robots like Willow Garage’s PR2 have the physical capability to do a range of useful tasks for humans, but they’re limited by the software applications written by highly specialized programmers. Instead, Maya Cakmak from Georgia Tech, envisions robots that can be programmed by their end-users for their own specific needs.

Cakmak developed a spoken dialog interface that allows a user to program new skills by physically moving PR2’s two arms and using simple speech commands.

Cakmak conducted a user study that replicates the described scenario.  Participants in this study (15 men and 15 women, ages 19-70) with no prior knowledge of how to program the robot were left alone with the robot and a combination of supplementary materials.  They had to figure out on their own how to program different skills such as picking up medicine from a cabinet or folding a towel.

The study revealed that information presented in the user manual easily gets overlooked and instructional videos are most useful in jump starting the interaction. In addition, trial-and-error plays a crucial role especially for achieving a certain proficiency level.

Video Source: Willow Garage

Enabling End-Users to Program New Robot Skills