Toward Reliable Autonomous Robotic Assistants Through Formal Verification: A Case Study

Matt Webster, Clare Dixon, Michael Fisher, Maha Salem, Joe Saunders, Kheng Lee Koay, K. Dautenhahn, Joan Saez-Pons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
115 Downloads (Pure)


It is essential for robots working in close proximity to people to be both safe and trustworthy. We present a case study on formal verification for a high-level planner/scheduler for the Care-O-bot, an autonomous personal robotic assistant. We describe how a model of the Care-O-bot and its environment was developed using Brahms, a multiagent workflow language. Formal verification was then carried out by automatically translating this model to the input language of an existing model checker. Four sample properties based on system requirements were verified. We then refined the environment model three times to increase its accuracy and the persuasiveness of the formal verification results. The first refinement uses a user activity log based on real-life experiments, but is deterministic. The second refinement uses the activities from the user activity log nondeterministically. The third refinement uses “conjoined activities” based on an observation that many user activities can overlap. The four samples properties were verified for each refinement of the environment model. Finally, we discuss the approach of environment model refinement with respect to this case study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-196
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems
Issue number2
Early online date13 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2016


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