Although imitation learning is a powerful technique for robot learning and knowledge acquisition from naive human users, it often suffers from the need for expensive human demonstrations. In some cases the robot has an insufficient number of useful demonstrations, while in others its learning ability is limited by the number of users it directly interacts with. We propose an approach that overcomes these shortcomings by using crowdsourcing to collect a wider variety of examples from a large pool of human demonstrators online. We present a new goal-based imitation learning framework which utilizes crowdsourcing as a major source of human demonstration data. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach experimentally on a scenario where the robot learns to build 2D object models on a table from basic building blocks using knowledge gained from locals and online crowd workers. In addition, we show how the robot can use this knowledge to support human-robot collaboration tasks such as goal inference through object-part classification and missing-part prediction. We report results from a user study involving fourteen local demonstrators and hundreds of crowd workers on 16 different model building tasks.
This paper was presented by Michael Jae-Yoon Chung at ICRA 2014.