Army award-winning research to transform Soldier-robot communication

Army researchers developed ground-breaking technology that will enhance how Soldiers and robots communicate and carry out tasks in tactical environments.

This research sets out to develop a natural language understanding, or NLU, pipeline for robots that would be easily ported over to any computational system or agent and incrementally tames the variation that we see in natural language, said Army researcher Dr. Claire Bonial from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory.

This means that regardless of how a Soldier chooses to express him or herself to the robot, the underlying intent of that language is understood and can be acted on, given both the current conversational and environmental or situational context.

To do this, the NLU pipeline first automatically parses the input language into Abstract Meaning Representation, or AMR, which captures the basic meaning of the content of the language, Bonial said. It then converts and augments the AMR into Dialogue-AMR, which captures additional elements of meaning needed for two-way human robot dialogue in particular, such as what the person is trying to do with the utterance in the conversational context, for example give a command, ask a question, state a fact about the environment, etc.

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