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Unsupervised Learning of Object Affordances for Planning in a Mobile Manipulation Platform

Ugur, Emre
Şahin, Erol
Oztop, Erhan
In this paper, we use the notion of affordances, proposed in cognitive science, as a framework to propose a developmental method that would enable a robot to ground symbolic planning mechanisms in the continuous sensory-motor experiences of a robot. We propose a method that allows a robot to learn the symbolic relations that pertain to its interactions with the world and show that they can be used in planning. Specifically, the robot interacts with the objects in its environment using a pre-coded repertoire of behaviors and records its interactions in a triple that consist of the initial percept of the object, the behavior applied and its effect, defined as the difference between the initial and the final percept. The method allows the robot to learn object affordance relations which can be used to predict the change in the percept of the object when a certain behavior is applied. These relations can then be used to develop plans using forward chaining. The method is implemented and evaluated on a mobile robot system with limited object manipulation capabilities. We have shown that the robot is able to learn the physical affordances of objects from range images and use them to build symbols and relations that can be used in making multi-step predictions about the affordances of objects and achieve complex goals.