Learning to Generate Unambiguous Spatial Referring Expressions for Real-World Environments

Dagan F. I., KALKAN S., Leite I.

IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Macau, China, 4 - 08 November 2019, pp.4992-4999 identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume:
  • Doi Number: 10.1109/iros40897.2019.8968510
  • City: Macau
  • Country: China
  • Page Numbers: pp.4992-4999
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Referring to objects in a natural and unambiguous manner is crucial for effective human-robot interaction. Previous research on learning-based referring expressions has focused primarily on comprehension tasks, while generating referring expressions is still mostly limited to rule-based methods. In this work, we propose a two-stage approach that relies on deep learning for estimating spatial relations to describe an object naturally and unambiguously with a referring expression. We compare our method to the state of the art algorithm in ambiguous environments (e.g., environments that include very similar objects with similar relationships). We show that our method generates referring expressions that people find to be more accurate (similar to 30% better) and would prefer to use (similar to 32% more often).