From Learning to Relearning: A Framework for Diminishing Bias in Social Robot Navigation

01/07/2021 ∙ by Juana Valeria Hurtado, et al. ∙ 10

The exponentially increasing advances in robotics and machine learning are facilitating the transition of robots from being confined to controlled industrial spaces to performing novel everyday tasks in domestic and urban environments. In order to make the presence of robots safe as well as comfortable for humans, and to facilitate their acceptance in public environments, they are often equipped with social abilities for navigation and interaction. Socially compliant robot navigation is increasingly being learned from human observations or demonstrations. We argue that these techniques that typically aim to mimic human behavior do not guarantee fair behavior. As a consequence, social navigation models can replicate, promote, and amplify societal unfairness such as discrimination and segregation. In this work, we investigate a framework for diminishing bias in social robot navigation models so that robots are equipped with the capability to plan as well as adapt their paths based on both physical and social demands. Our proposed framework consists of two components: learning which incorporates social context into the learning process to account for safety and comfort, and relearning to detect and correct potentially harmful outcomes before the onset. We provide both technological and sociological analysis using three diverse case studies in different social scenarios of interaction. Moreover, we present ethical implications of deploying robots in social environments and propose potential solutions. Through this study, we highlight the importance and advocate for fairness in human-robot interactions in order to promote more equitable social relationships, roles, and dynamics and consequently positively influence our society.

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