ITALK: Integration and Transfer of Action and Language Knowledge in Robots


The ITALK project aims to develop artificial embodied agents
able to acquire complex behavioural, cognitive, and linguistic skills through
individual and social learning. This will be achieved through the development
of cognitive robotic agents, such as the iCub humanoid platform, that learn to
handle and manipulate objects and tools autonomously, to cooperate and
communicate with other robots and humans, and to adapt their abilities to
changing internal, environmental, and social conditions.

The main theoretical hypothesis behind
the project is that the parallel development of action, conceptualisation and
social interaction permits the bootstrapping of language capabilities, which on
their part enhance cognitive development. This is possible through the
integration and transfer of knowledge and cognitive processes involved in
sensorimotor learning and the construction of action categories, imitation and
other forms of social learning, the acquisition of grounded conceptual
representations and the development of the grammatical structure of language.

The project will lead to the
development of: (a) new theoretical insights, models and scientific
explanations of the integration of action, social and linguistic skills and in
particular on the hypothesis that action, social and linguistic knowledge
co-develop and further bootstrap cognitive development, (b) new
interdisciplinary sets of methods for analysing the interaction of language,
action and cognition in humans and artificial cognitive agents, (c) new
cognitively-plausible engineering principles and approaches for the design of
robots with behavioural, cognitive, social and linguistic skills.

Overall, the project proposes visionary
research that will provide a new standard in embodied cognitive science and
will demonstrate the effectiveness of the method proposed by integrating
interdisciplinary theoretical and experimental research on a single advanced
robotic platform.


Project ID: 
GA 214668
Project funding: 
FP - European Framework Programmes
Funding source: 
Project Timeframe: 
Sat, 01/03/2008 - Tue, 28/02/2012
ISTC Contact Person: 
Stefano Nolfi

Prof. Angelo Cangelosi, University of Plymouth (United Kingdom), Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems




of Plymouth (United Kingdom), Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems

of Bielefeld (Germany), Applied Computer Science

Research Council Rome (Italy), Robotics and Artificial Life

of Southern Denmark (Denmark), Department of Business Communication and
Information Science

of Hertfordshire (United Kingdom), Adaptive Systems Research

Institute of Technology (Italy), Humanoid Robotics

Institute (Japan), Behavior and Dynamic Cognition



  • language and action, humanoid robots, developmental robotics