The What without the How: Specifying Planning Problems in Robotics

Organizers: Cristian Vasile, Vasumathi Raman


Every new graduate student is told that when it comes to research, a good problem formulation is half the battle won. As the responsibilities we give to robots and autonomous vehicles become more complex by the day, the time is ripe to step back and redefine the basic blocks that define the planning problems we solve when creating "autonomy". The classical piano-mover's problem has dominated the motion planning literature for decades, and is still unsolved for many domains, but increasingly, planning problems involve responding to uncertainty, stochasticity, partial observability, unwieldy dynamics, and other challenges. Moreover, the "what" itself is evolving. Planning for long-term autonomy, collaborative and surveillance tasks have all motivated unique reformulations of the classical planning problem, including novel means of specifying desired behavior such as temporal logics and domain-specific languages, as well as natural language instructions. This workshop is an attempt to wrangle these disparate approaches and make some sense of the zoo of options. Participants will be treated to a breadth of current approaches from area experts, and encouraged to be critical of new modes of specification and the utility of the planning approaches that go therewith. Activities have been carefully structured to encourage interaction amongst participants, and to provide a platform for congenial collegial debate between various relevant communities.