Spoken Language Interaction with Model Uncertainty: An Adaptive Human-Robot Interaction System
Finale Doshi and Nicholas Roy
Spoken language is one of the most intuitive forms of interaction between humans and agents. Unfortunately, agents that interact with people using natural language often experience communication errors and do not correctly understand the user's intentions. Recent systems have successfully used probabilistic models of speech, language, and user behavior to generate robust dialog performance in the presence of noisy speech recognition and ambiguous language choices, but decisions made using these probabilistic models are still prone to errors due to the complexity of acquiring and maintaining a complete model of human language and behavior.
In this paper, we describe a decision-theoretic model for human-robot interaction using natural language. Our algorithm is based on the Partially Observable Markov Decision Process (POMDP), which allows agents to choose actions that are robust not only to uncertainty from noisy or ambiguous speech recognition but also unknown user models. Like most dialog systems, a POMDP is defined by a large number of parameters that may be difficult to specify a priori from domain knowledge, and learning these parameters from the user may require an unacceptably long training period. We describe an extension to the POMDP model that allows the agent to acquire a linguistic model of the user online, including new vocabulary and word choice preferences. Our approach not only avoids a training period of constant questioning as the agent learns, but also allows the agent to actively query for additional information when its uncertainty suggests a high risk of mistakes. We demonstrate our approach both in simulation and on a natural language interaction system for a robotic wheelchair application.