VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House

Before we can have Robert Heinlein's wonderful home robot Flexible Frank (from his 1956 classic The Door into Summer...

Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? Answer: any work a human being does around a house. He didn't have to play cards, make love, eat or sleep, but he did have to clean up after the card game, cook, make beds, and tend babies - at least he had to keep track of a baby's breathing and call someone if it changes.

...We need to train them. Hence, VirtualHome, the activity simulator for teaching household tasks to robots.


(VirtualHome video: Teaching Robots To Do Chores)

In this paper, we are interested in modeling complex activities that occur in a typical household. We propose to use programs, i.e., sequences of atomic actions and interactions, as a high level representation of complex tasks. Programs are interesting because they provide a non-ambiguous representation of a task, and allow agents to execute them. However, nowadays, there is no database providing this type of information. Towards this goal, we first crowd-source programs for a variety of activities that happen in people’s homes, via a game-like interface used for teaching kids how to code. Using the collected dataset, we show how we can learn to extract programs directly from natural language descriptions or from videos. We then implement the most common atomic (inter)actions in the Unity3D game engine, and use our programs to “drive” an artificial agent to execute tasks in a simulated household environment. Our VirtualHome simulator allows us to create a large activity video dataset with rich ground-truth, enabling training and testing of video understanding models. We further showcase examples of our agent performing tasks in our VirtualHome based on language descriptions.

(From VirtualHome: Simulating Household Activities via Programs [pdf])

I just love the idea of a household robot, maybe one of the following will be perfected in my lifetime:

  - Twendy-One Robot Is Your Humanoid Helper
  - REEM-B Robot Autonomous Helper Video
  - Care-O-Bot Robot Does Chores One-Handed
  - Basil Reification Robot
  - Toyota Delivery Robot Home Helper
  - ATLAS Robot Now Does Housework!
  - Elon Musk et. al. OpenAI Household Robot
  - Housekeeping Robots Easy To Imagine, Tough To Make

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