2022 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Symbol and Communicative Grounding Through Object Permanence

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Casey Kennington


Gaining an understanding of object permanence is a foundational step of language development in infants, allowing them to form, and retain, mental representations of objects. However, current spoken dialogue systems (SDS) have ignored object permanence in their language understanding models. This hinders the language learning abilities of these systems as they cannot effectively “understand” ideas such as relational terms or abstract concepts. I will explore how object permanence affects language development. Using a simultaneous localization and mapping module, I will design a SDS using the ReTico incremental framework to give it a representation of object permanence. The Anki Cozmo robot will then use this SDS to interact with participants in an A/B test evaluating how well Cozmo learns language both with and without a representation object permanence. This research seeks to understand how object permanence affects participants' perception of Cozmo, their ability to teach Cozmo language and Cozmo’s language acquisition abilities.

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