Harvesting Common-sense Navigational Knowledge for Robotics from Uncurated Text Corpora


Nancy Fulda, Nathan Tibbetts, Zachary Brown, David Wingate ;
Proceedings of the 1st Annual Conference on Robot Learning, PMLR 78:525-534, 2017.


As robotic systems are deployed into everyday situations, the need for abstract reasoning becomes more pronounced. The ideal robotic assistant should be able to understand verbal commands and work independently to fulfill human-prescribed goals, even if instructions are ambiguous or circumstances change. This paper presents a new algorithm for high-level reasoning based on Euclidean representations of words and their meanings. Rather than using ontologies or knowledge graphs, we model information about the world as a learned geometry of the contexts in which human beings tend to use each idea. Building on the analogy algorithms utilized by Mikolov et al., we perform mathematical operations on the vector space to infer responses to previously unseen problems, and apply our method to a sequence of semantic reasoning tasks in order to answer questions such as ‘Where can I find a dustpan?’, ‘Where do the crayons belong?’, and ‘What transportation method will bring me to the airport?’. Our Directional Scoring Method (DSM) returns a ranked list of possible responses, many of which are plausible answers to the query. Additionally, DSM’s top-ranked response is significantly more likely to be correct than the top-ranked responses of naive analogy estimations.

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