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Adapting robot task planning to user preferences: an assistive shoe dressing example


Healthcare robots will be the next big advance in humans’ domestic welfare, with robots able to assist elderly people and users with disabilities. However, each user has his/her own preferences, needs and abilities. Therefore, robotic assistants will need to adapt to them, behaving accordingly. Towards this goal, we propose a method to perform behavior adaptation to the user preferences, using symbolic task planning. A user model is built from the user’s answers to simple questions with a fuzzy inference system, and it is then integrated into the planning domain. We describe an adaptation method based on both the user satisfaction and the execution outcome, depending on which penalizations are applied to the planner’s rules. We demonstrate the application of the adaptation method in a simple shoe-fitting scenario, with experiments performed in a simulated user environment. The results show quick behavior adaptation, even when the user behavior changes, as well as robustness to wrong inference of the initial user model. Finally, some insights in a non-simulated world shoe-fitting setup are also provided.

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  1. 1.

    For simplicity, we consider only one successful outcome, though it can be easily extended to several successful outcomes.

  2. 2.

    We define costs as negative rewards, thus subtracting to the previous cost we are worsening it.

  3. 3.

    This would happen if the user changes his/her behavior from the adapted model, always providing a positive feedback score.

  4. 4.

    Note that the feedback update modifies the reward, thus the reward plots of the methods using it keep improving its reward because of this.

  5. 5.

  6. 6.

    Shoe grasping is out of the scope of the paper.


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The authors thank Clea Parcerisas, Sergi Foix and Adrià Colomé for their help in the realization of the experiments, pictures and video.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gerard Canal.

Additional information

This is one of the several papers published in Autonomous Robots comprising the Special Issue on Learning for Human–Robot Collaboration.

This work has been partially supported by the CHIST-ERA Project I-DRESS PCIN-2015-147, by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation HuMoUR TIN2017-90086-R and the AEI through the María de Maeztu Seal of Excellence to IRI (MDM-2016-0656). Gerard Canal is also supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport via a doctoral grant FPU15/00504.

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Canal, G., Alenyà, G. & Torras, C. Adapting robot task planning to user preferences: an assistive shoe dressing example. Auton Robot 43, 1343–1356 (2019).

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  • Planning with preferences
  • Behavior adaptation
  • Task personalization
  • Shoe fitting