Spatial Relations for Tactical Robot Navigation

In this paper, we provide an overview of our on-going work using spatial relations for mobile robot navigation. Using the histogram of forces, we show how linguistic expressions can be generated to describe a qualitative view of the robot with respect to its environment. The linguistic expressions provide a symbolic link between the robot and a human user, thus facilitating two-way, human-like communication. In this paper, we present two ways in which spatial relations can be used for robot navigation. First, egocentric spatial relations provide a robot-centered view of the environment (e.g., "there is an object on the left"). Navigation can be described in terms of spatial relations (e.g., "move forward while there is an object on the left, then turn right"), such that a complete navigation task is generated as a sequence of navigation states with corresponding behaviors. Second, spatial relations can be used to analyze maps and facilitate their use in communicating navigation tasks. For example, the user can draw an approximate map on a PDA and then draw the desired robot trajectory also on the PDA, relative to the map. Spatial relations can then be used to convert the relative trajectory to a corresponding navigation behavior sequence. Examples are included using a comparable scene from both a robot environment and a PDA-sketched trajectory showing the corresponding generated linguistic spatial expressions.