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Lifelong learning and development
in robots and humans

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The Flowers project-team, at Inria and Ensta ParisTech, studies mechanisms that can allow robots and humans to acquire autonomously and cumulatively repertoires of novel skills over extended periods of time.

This includes mechanisms for learning by self-exploration, as well as learning through interaction with peers, for the acquisition of both sensorimotor and social skills.  Sensorimotor skills include locomotion, affordance learning, active manipulation. Interactive skills include grounded language use and understanding, adaptive interaction protocols, and human-robot collaboration.

Our approach is organized along two strands of research:

  • Constructing machines and robots, inspired by animal cognitive development, and capable of lifelong development, adaptation and interaction with the physical and social world.
  • Elaborating computer and robotic models as tools for understanding developmental processes in humans.
Our project-team, headed by Pierre-Yves Oudeyer (Inria) and co-started with David Filliat (Ensta ParisTech Cognitive Robotics Group), focuses in particular on the study of developmental mechanisms that guide efficient open-ended learning of novel skills in large real world environments. In particular, we study:
  • Intrinsically motivated exploration, information seeking and active learning, including artificial curiosity;
  • Social learning, e.g. learning by imitation or demonstration, which implies both issues related to machine learning and human-robot interaction;
  • Mechanisms for learning to sequence and compose actions to reach goals, especially within the framework or reinforcement learning;
  • The role of embodiment, in particular through the concept of morphological computation, as well as the structure of motor primitives/muscle synegies that can leverage the properties of morphology and physics;
  • Maturational constraints which can allow the progressive release of novel sensorimotor degrees of freedom to be explored;

The FLOWERS project-team is located on two sites: Inria Bordeaux Sud-Ouest and ENSTA-Paristech in Paris.

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