Human-Robot Interaction and Mapping with a Service Robot : Human Augmented Mapping

Sammanfattning: An issue widely discussed in robotics research is the ageing society with its consequences for care-giving institutions and opportunities for developments in the area of service robots and robot companions. The general idea of using robotic systems in a personal or private context to support an independent way of living not only for the elderly but also for the physically impaired is pursued in different ways, ranging from socially oriented robotic pets to mobile assistants. Thus, the idea of the personalised general service robot is not too far fetched. Crucial for such a service robot is the ability to navigate in its working environment, which has to be assumed an arbitrary domestic or office-like environment that is shared with human users and bystanders. With methods developed and investigated in the field of simultaneous localisation and mapping it has become possible for mobile robots to explore and map an unknown environment, while they can stay localised with respect to their starting point and the surroundings. These approaches though do not consider the representation of the environment that is used by humans to refer to particular places. Robotic maps are often metric representations of features that can be obtained from sensory data. Humans have a more topological, in fact partially hierarchical way of representing environments. Especially for the communication between a user and her personal robot it is thus necessary to provide a link between the robotic map and the human understanding of the robot's workspace. The term Human Augmented Mapping is used for a framework that allows to integrate a robotic map with human concepts. Communication about the environment can thus be facilitated. By assuming an interactive setting for the map acquisition process it is possible for the user to influence the process significantly. Personal preferences can be made part of the environment representation that is acquired by the robot. Advantages become also obvious for the mapping process itself, since in an interactive setting the robot can ask for information and resolve ambiguities with the help of the user. Thus, a scenario of a ``guided tour'' in which a user can ask a robot to follow and present the surroundings is assumed as the starting point for a system for the integration of robotic mapping, interaction and human environment representations. A central point is the development of a generic, partially hierarchical environment model, that is applied in a topological graph structure as part of an overall experimental Human Augmented Mapping system implementation. Different aspects regarding the representation of entities of the spatial concepts used in this hierarchical model, particularly considering regions, are investigated. The proposed representation is evaluated both as description of delimited regions and for the detection of transitions between them. In three user studies different aspects of the human-robot interaction issues of Human Augmented Mapping are investigated and discussed. Results from the studies support the proposed model and representation approaches and can serve as basis for further studies in this area.