There is a strong push to develop intelligent unmanned autonomy that complements human reasoning for applications as diverse as wilderness search and rescue, military surveillance, and robotic space exploration. More than just replacing humans for `dull, dirty and dangerous' work, autonomous agents are expected to cope with a whole host of uncertainties while working closely together with humans in new situations. The robotics revolution firmly established the primacy of Bayesian algorithms for tackling challenging perception, learning and decision-making problems. Since the next frontier of autonomy demands the ability to gather information across stretches of time and space that are beyond the reach of a single autonomous agent, the next generation of Bayesian algorithms must capitalize on opportunities to draw upon the sensing and perception abilities of humans-in/on-the-loop. This work summarizes our recent research toward harnessing `human sensors' for information gathering tasks. The basic idea behind is to allow human end users (i.e. non-experts in robotics, statistics, machine learning, etc.) to directly `talk to' the information fusion engine and perceptual processes aboard any autonomous agent. Our approach is grounded in rigorous Bayesian modeling and fusion of flexible semantic information derived from user-friendly interfaces, such as natural language chat and locative hand-drawn sketches. This naturally enables `plug and play' human sensing with existing probabilistic algorithms for planning and perception, and has been successfully demonstrated with human-robot teams in target localization applications.
Nisar Ahmed, "Collaborative autonomous sensing with Bayesians in the loop," Proc. SPIE 9986, Unmanned/Unattended Sensors and Sensor Networks XII, 99860B (Presented at SPIE Security + Defence: September 27, 2016; Published: 21 October 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2246705.
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