An Architecture for Human-Guided Autonomy: Team TROOPER at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals
Recent robotics efforts have automated simple, repetitive tasks to increase execution speed and lessen an operator’s cognitive load, allowing them to focus on higher-level objectives. However, an autonomous system will eventually encounter something unexpected, and if this exceeds the tolerance of automated solutions there must be a way to fall back to teleoperation. Our solution is a largely autonomous system with the ability to determine when it is necessary to ask a human operator for guidance. We call this approach human-guided autonomy. Our design emphasizes human-on-the-loop control where an operator expresses a desired high-level goal for which the reasoning component assembles an appropriate chain of subtasks. We introduce our work in the context of the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Finals. We describe the software architecture Team TROOPER developed and used to control an Atlas humanoid robot. We employ perception, planning, and control automation for execution of subtasks. If subtasks fail, or if changing environmental conditions invalidate the planned subtasks, the system automatically generates a new task chain. The operator is able to intervene at any stage of execution, to provide input and adjustment to any control layer, enabling operator involvement to increase as confidence in automation decreases. We present our performance at the DRC Finals and a discussion about lessons learned.
The authors thank the Lockheed Martin Corporation for supporting this work. This material is based on research sponsored by DARPA under agreement number FA8750-12-2-0311. The U.S. Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Governmental purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation thereon. We are also grateful to Boston Dynamics and the Institute for Human Machine Cognition for their support during the DRC Finals. Special thanks to Ken White bread for thoughtful conversations and leadership on the development of human-guided autonomy.
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