center for robotics and embedded systems University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering

Among humans, teaching various tasks is a complex process which relies on multiple means for interaction and learning, both on the part of the teacher and of the learner. Used together, these modalities lead to effective teaching and learning approaches, respectively. In the robotics domain, task teaching has been mostly addressed by using only one or very few of these interactions. In this paper we present an approach for teaching robots that relies on the key features and the general approach people use when teaching each other: first give a demonstration, then allow the learner to refine the acquired capabilities by practicing under the teacher's supervision, involving a small number of trials. Depending on the quality of the learned task, the teacher may either demonstrate it again or provide specific feedback during the learner's practice trial for further refinement. Also, as people do during demonstrations, the teacher can provide simple instructions and informative cues, increasing the performance of learning. Thus, "instructive demonstrations", "generalization" over multiple demonstrations and "practice trials" are essential features for a successful human-robot teaching approach. We implemented a system that enables all these capabilities and validated these concepts with a Pioneer 2DX mobile robot learning tasks from multiple demonstrations and teacher feedback.


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