Safe Navigation with Human Instructions in Complex Scenes


In this paper, we present a robotic navigation algorithm with natural language interfaces, which enables a robot to safely walk through a changing environment with moving persons by following human instructions such as “go to the restaurant and keep away from people”. We first classify human instructions into three types: the goal, the constraints, and uninformative phrases. Next, we provide grounding for the extracted goal and constraint items in a dynamic manner along with the navigation process, to deal with the target objects that are too far away for sensor observation and the appearance of moving obstacles like humans. In particular, for a goal phrase (e.g., “go to the restaurant”), we ground it to a location in a predefined semantic map and treat it as a goal for a global motion planner, which plans a collision free path in the workspace for the robot to follow. For a constraint phrase (e.g., “keep away from people”), we dynamically add the corresponding constraint into a local planner by adjusting the values of a local costmap according to the results returned by the object detection module. The updated costmap is then used to compute a local collision avoidance control for the safe navigation of the robot. By combining natural language processing, motion planning and computer vision, our developed system is demonstrated to be able to successfully follow natural language navigation instructions to achieve navigation tasks in both simulated and real-world scenarios. Videos are available at

IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)