Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Computer Science and Engineering

Major Professor

Sudeep Sarkar, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Rajiv Dubey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dmitry Goldgof, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rangachar Kasturi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Sanocki, Ph.D.


3D Object Categorization, 3D Object Pose Estimation, Markov Networks, Object-Action Pairs, Superquadrics


In order for assistive robots to collaborate effectively with humans for completing everyday tasks, they must be endowed with the ability to effectively perceive scenes and more importantly, recognize human intentions. As a result, we present in this dissertation a novel scene-dependent human-robot collaborative system capable of recognizing and learning human intentions based on scene objects, the actions that can be performed on them, and human interaction history. The aim of this system is to reduce the amount of human interactions necessary for communicating tasks to a robot. Accordingly, the system is partitioned into scene understanding and intention recognition modules. For scene understanding, the system is responsible for segmenting objects from captured RGB-D data, determining their positions and orientations in space, and acquiring their category labels. This information is fed into our intention recognition component where the most likely object and action pair that the user desires is determined.

Our contributions to the state of the art are manifold. We propose an intention recognition framework that is appropriate for persons with limited physical capabilities, whereby we do not observe human physical actions for inferring intentions as is commonplace, but rather we only observe the scene. At the core of this framework is our novel probabilistic graphical model formulation entitled Object-Action Intention Networks. These networks are undirected graphical models where the nodes are comprised of object, action, and object feature variables, and the links between them indicate some form of direct probabilistic interaction. This setup, in tandem with a recursive Bayesian learning paradigm, enables our system to adapt to a user's preferences. We also propose an algorithm for the rapid estimation of position and orientation values of scene objects from single-view 3D point cloud data using a multi-scale superquadric fitting approach. Additionally, we leverage recent advances in computer vision for an RGB-D object categorization procedure that balances discrimination and generalization as well as a depth segmentation procedure that acquires candidate objects from tabletops. We demonstrate the feasibility of the collaborative system presented herein by conducting evaluations on multiple scenes comprised of objects from 11 categories, along with 7 possible actions, and 36 possible intentions. We achieve approximately 81% reduction in interactions overall after learning despite changes to scene structure.