The IRAL Lab: Research

The Interactive Robotics and Language lab is a research laboratory in UMBC's Computer Science and Electrical Engineering department. We study robotics and natural language processing, with the goal of bringing the fields together: developing robots that everyday people can talk to, telling them to do tasks or about the world around them. This approach to learning to understand language in the physical space that people and robots occupy is called grounded language acquisition. Our goal is to build robots that can perform tasks in noisy, real-world environments, instead of being pre-emptively programmed to handle a fixed set of predetermined tasks.

Robotics is one of the fastest growing and most exciting areas of artificial intelligence today. As robots move away from constrained industrial, it is increasingly necessary for them to interact with noisy, unpredictable environments. We study robot learning, human-robot interaction, and grounded language understanding, bringing together robotics, natural language processing, and statistical learning approaches to build advanced intelligent agents that can interact robustly with non-specialists in a wide variety of problem domains.

The aim of our research program is to construct robots that interact with people seamlessly in unanticipated, dynamic environments and problem spaces. We focus on statistical learning approaches that let robots learn about the world entirely from multimodal interactions with end users. Understanding the needs and communication of human users is a long-standing problem threaded through many areas of artificial intelligence, and we study new ways to attack this long-standing problem, leading toward robots that can interact flexibly with people in the human world.



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