POMDP-Based Long-Term User Intention Prediction for Wheelchair Navigation

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Conference Proceeding
Proceeding of 2008 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 2008, pp. 3920 - 3925
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This paper presents an intelligent decision-making agent to assist wheelchair users in their daily navigation activities. Several navigational techniques have been successfully developed in the past to assist with specific behaviours such as "door passing" or "corridor following". These shared control strategies normally require the user to manually select the level of assistance required during use. Recent research has seen a move towards more intelligent systems that focus on forecasting users' intentions based on current and past actions. However, these predictions have been typically limited to locations immediately surrounding the wheelchair. The key contribution of the work presented here is the ability to predict the users' intended destination at a larger scale, that of a typical office arena. The systems relies on minimal user input - obtained from a standard wheelchair joystick - in conjunction with a learned Partially Observable Markov Decision Process (POMDP), to estimate and subsequently drive the user to his destination. The projection is constantly being updated, allowing for true user- platform integration. This shifts users' focus from fine motor- skilled control to coarse control broadly intended to convey intention. Successful simulation and experimental results on a real wheelchair robot demonstrate the validity of the approach.
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