Language Acquisition and Robotics Group

at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Introduction

Here at the Language Acquistion and Robotics Laboratory, we are aiming to develop intelligent robots with the ability to learn natural language. While there are many aspects of this research, the most important are the following ideas:

  • There is no such thing as a disembodied mind.
  • There are no isolated perceptual or cognitive functions.
  • Language is acquired through interaction with the real world. Sensory-motor function is essential.
  • Mental processes are largely based on associative memory.
  • The Language Engine is primarily semantic, not syntactic.

Our research is based around these ideas. We are currently working on the iCub humanoid robotic platform, and have developed and integrated modules for various cognitive processes, including modules for sensory input processing, speech recognition, speech generation, navigation, and associative learning. Our ultimate goal in this endeavor is nothing less than the construction and explanation of a mechanical ``mind''.

With the acquisition of our new robot, we are beginning to study the effects and benefits that integration a more complete motor periphery can have on cognitive development and language acquisition. New research goals in the lab include developing generalized motor representations ('motion primitives') for application to language learning, studying the problems body schema learning, imitation, and fundamental control for reaching and grasping tasks. Additionally, we are also researching new mathematical techniques for the creation of an associative memory using non-linear dynamical system models of neural spiking.

Recent Publications

Illinois Speech & Language Beckman Institute ECE Illinois University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign