Active Uncertainty Learning for Human-Robot Interaction: An Implicit Dual Control Approach


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Predictive models are effective in reasoning about human motion, a crucial part that affects safety and efficiency in human-robot interaction. However, robots often lack access to certain key parameters of such models, for example, human's objectives, their level of distraction, and willingness to cooperate. Dual control theory addresses this challenge by treating unknown parameters as stochastic hidden states and identifying their values using information gathered during control of the robot. Despite its ability to optimally and automatically trade off exploration and exploitation, dual control is computationally intractable for general human-in-the-loop motion planning, mainly due to nested trajectory optimization and human intent prediction. In this paper, we present a novel algorithmic approach to enable active uncertainty learning for human-in-the-loop motion planning based on the implicit dual control paradigm. Our approach relies on sampling-based approximation of stochastic dynamic programming, leading to a model predictive control problem that can be readily solved by real-time gradient-based optimization methods. The resulting policy is shown to preserve the dual control effect for generic human predictive models with both continuous and categorical uncertainty. The efficacy of our approach is demonstrated with simulated driving examples.
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