Self-Supervised Prediction of the Intention to Interact with a Service Robot

by   Gabriele Abbate, et al.

A service robot can provide a smoother interaction experience if it has the ability to proactively detect whether a nearby user intends to interact, in order to adapt its behavior e.g. by explicitly showing that it is available to provide a service. In this work, we propose a learning-based approach to predict the probability that a human user will interact with a robot before the interaction actually begins; the approach is self-supervised because after each encounter with a human, the robot can automatically label it depending on whether it resulted in an interaction or not. We explore different classification approaches, using different sets of features considering the pose and the motion of the user. We validate and deploy the approach in three scenarios. The first collects 3442 natural sequences (both interacting and non-interacting) representing employees in an office break area: a real-world, challenging setting, where we consider a coffee machine in place of a service robot. The other two scenarios represent researchers interacting with service robots (200 and 72 sequences, respectively). Results show that, even in challenging real-world settings, our approach can learn without external supervision, and can achieve accurate classification (i.e. AUROC greater than 0.9) of the user's intention to interact with an advance of more than 3s before the interaction actually occurs.


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