Imperial College London

Professor Yiannis Demiris

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Professor of Human-Centred Robotics, Head of ISN



+44 (0)20 7594 6300y.demiris Website




1014Electrical EngineeringSouth Kensington Campus






BibTex format

author = {Petit, M and Demiris, Y and Petit, M and Demiris, Y},
doi = {10.1109/ICRA.2016.7487513},
pages = {3375--3382},
publisher = {IEEE},
title = {Hierarchical Action Learning by Instruction Through Interactive Grounding of Body Parts and Proto-actions},
url = {},
year = {2016}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Learning by instruction allows humans programming a robot to achieve a task using spoken language, without the requirement of being able to do the task themselves, which can be problematic for users with motor impairments. We provide a developmental framework to program the humanoid robot iCub without any hand-coded a-priori knowledge about any motor skills. Inspired by child development theories, the system involves hierarchical learning, starting with the human verbally labelling robot body parts. The robot can then focus its attention on a precise body part during robot motor babbling, and link the on-the-fly spoken descriptions of proto-actions to angle values of a specific joint. The direct grounding of proto-actions is possible through the use of a linear model which calculates the effects on the joint of the proto-action and the body part used, allowing a generalisation of the proto-action if the joint has never been used before. Eventually, transferring the grounding is allowed via learning by instructions where humans can combine the newly acquired proto-actions to build primitives and more complex actions by scaffolding them. The framework has been validated using a humanoid robot iCub, which is able to learn without any prior knowledge: 1) the name of its fingers and the corresponding joint number, 2) how to fold and unfold them and 3) how to close or open its hand and how to show numbers with its fingers.
AU - Petit,M
AU - Demiris,Y
AU - Petit,M
AU - Demiris,Y
DO - 10.1109/ICRA.2016.7487513
EP - 3382
PY - 2016///
SN - 1050-4729
SP - 3375
TI - Hierarchical Action Learning by Instruction Through Interactive Grounding of Body Parts and Proto-actions
UR -
UR -
UR -
ER -