Are You Talking To Me? Dialogue Systems Supporting Mixed Teams of Humans and Robots

John Dowding, Richard Alena, William J. Clancey, Maarten Sierhuis, Jeffrey Graham

This position paper describes an approach to building spoken dialogue systems for environments containing multiple human speakers and hearers, and multiple robotic speakers and hearers. We address the issue, for robotic hearers, of whether the speech they hear is intended for them, or more likely to be intended for some other hearer. We will describe data collected during a series of experiments involving teams of multiple human and robots (and other software participants), and some preliminary results for distinguishing robot-directed speech from human-directed speech. The domain of these experiments is Mars analog planetary exploration. These Mars analog field studies involve two subjects in simulated planetary space suits doing geological exploration with the help of 1-2 robots, supporting software agents, a habitat communicator and links to a remote science team. The two subjects are performing a task (geological exploration) which requires them to speak with each other while also speaking with their assistants. The technique used here is to use a probabilistic context-free grammar language model in the speech recognizer that is trained on prior robot-directed speech. Intuitively, the recognizer will give higher confidence to an utterance if it is similar to utterances that have been directed to the robot in the past.

Subjects: 6. Computer-Human Interaction; 18. Speech Understanding

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