Programming machines to operate flexibly and autonomously in the physical world seems to require a sophisticated representation that encodes simultaneously the nature of a task, the nature of the environment within which the task is to be performed, and the nature of the robot’s capabilities with respect to both. We seek a scientific methodology of robot task encoding that encompasses the desired behavioral goals and environmental conditions as well. The methodology must balance the need for flexible expression of abstract human goals against the necessity of a eliciting a predictable response from the commanded machine. This talk focuses on the problem of motion planning as an example of how we propose to say what we mean to a robot and to know what we have said.
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