Use Defines Possibilities: Reasoning about Object Function to Interpret and Execute Robot Instructions

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This work was written as part of one of the author's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.
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Language models have shown great promise in common-sense related tasks. However, it remains unseen how they would perform in the context of physically situated human-robot interactions, particularly in disaster-relief scenarios. In this paper, we develop a language model evaluation dataset with more than 800 cloze sentences, written to probe for the function of over 200 objects. The sentences are divided into two tasks: an “easy” task where the language model has to choose between vocabulary with different functions (Task 1), and a “challenge” where it has to choose between vocabulary with the same function, yet only one vocabulary item is appropriate given real world constraints on functionality (Task 2). DistilBERT performs with about 80% accuracy for both tasks. To investigate how annotator variability affected those results, we developed a follow-on experiment where we compared our original results with wrong answers chosen based on embedding vector distances. Those results showed increased precision across documents but a 15% decrease in accuracy. We conclude that language models do have a strong knowledge basis for object reasoning, but will require creative fine-tuning strategies in order to be successfully deployed.