How many words can my robot learn? An approach and experiments with one-class learning

Seabra L. Lopes*, Aneesh Chauhan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This paper addresses word learning for human-robot interaction. The focus is on making a robotic agent aware of its surroundings, by having it learn the names of the objects it can find. The human user, acting as instructor, can help the robotic agent ground the words used to refer to those objects. A lifelong learning system, based on one-class learning, was developed (OCLL). This system is incremental and evolves with the presentation of any new word, which acts as a class to the robot, relying on instructor feedback. A novel experimental evaluation methodology, that takes into account the open-ended nature of word learning, is proposed and applied. This methodology is based on the realization that a robot's vocabulary will be limited by its discriminatory capacity which, in turn, depends on its sensors and perceptual capabilities. The results indicate that the robot's representations are capable of incrementally evolving by correcting class descriptions, based on instructor feedback to classification results. In successive experiments, it was possible for the robot to learn between 6 and 12 names of real-world office objects. Although these results are comparable to those obtained by other authors, there is a need to scale-up. The limitations of the method are discussed and potential directions for improvement are pointed out.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-81
Number of pages29
JournalInteraction Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Experimental methodologies
  • External symbol grounding
  • Human-robot interaction
  • One-classs learning
  • Word learning

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