Robot Interaction Language

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The Robot Interaction Language (ROILA) is the first spoken language created specifically for talking to robots.[1] ROILA is being developed by the Department of Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology. The major goals of ROILA are that it should be easily learnable by the user, and optimized for efficient recognition by robots. ROILA has a syntax that allows it to be useful for many different kinds of robots, including the Roomba, and Lego Mindstorms NXT. ROILA is free for anybody to use and to contribute to, as the team has released all documentation and tools under a Creative Commons license.[2]


ROILA was developed due to the need for a unified language for humans to speak to robots. The designers performed research into the ability of robots to recognize and interpret natural languages. They discovered that natural languages can be very confusing for robots to interpret sometimes, due to elements such as homophones and tenses. Based on this research, the team set out to create a genetic algorithm that would generate an artificial vocabulary in a way that would be easy for a human to pronounce. The algorithm used the most common phonemes from the most popular natural languages and created easy to pronounce words. The team took the results of this algorithm and formed the ROILA vocabulary.[3]


ROILA has an isolating grammar, meaning that it doesn't have suffixes or prefixes added to words to change their meanings. Instead, these changes are constructed by adding word markers that specify what the changes are, such as the tense of the previous verb. For example, in English the suffix “ed” is added to a word to show that it is in the past tense, but in ROILA the marker word “jifi” is placed after the verb.[4]


Below is the list of all letters and sounds used in ROILA:[5]

Letter IPA transcription ARPABET transcription Example
a æ AE bat
e ɛ EH red
i ɪ IH big
o ɔ AO frost
u ʌ AH but
b b B buy
f f F for
j JH just
k k K key
l l L late
m m M man
n n N no
p p P pay
s s S say
t t T take
w w W way


The vocabulary of ROILA was generated by an algorithm designed to create a vocabulary with the least confusion amongst words. Each word generated by this algorithm was assigned a basic meaning, as taken from Basic English. The words from Basic English that are used the most frequently are assigned to the shortest ROILA words generated by the algorithm. A short list of words in ROILA is included below, along with their English meaning.

English Meaning ROILA Word
air wifawe
and sowu
bad topik
can leto
cold bosipu
end pekot
fire nejoj
give bufo
hand jiwos
inside pawop
know bati
left webufo
man losa
number felit
outside bajike
paper banafu
right besati
stay tipet
talk seni
use seput
very; pluralizing particle[6] tuji
walk fosit
word marker for future tense jifo
word marker for past tense jifi
you bama


ROILA was designed to have a regular grammar, with no exceptions to anything. All rules apply to all words in a part of speech. Due to the simple isolating type grammar of ROILA whole word markers are added following parts of speech to show the grammatical category. For example, a word marker placed after a verb type would apply a tense, while a word marker applied after a noun type would apply plurality. ROILA has five parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and pronouns. The only pronouns are I, you, he, and she.[7] Sentences follow a subject–verb–object word order.


The following examples attempt to show what the syntax of the language looks like in various uses.

English ROILA Gloss
I love this fruit Pito loki wikute I love fruit
I love all fruits Pito loki wikute tuji I love fruit [word marker for plural]
You are a good person Bama wopa tiwil You good person
I walked to the house Pito fosit jifi bubas I walk [word marker for past tense] house
Do not listen to her Buse lulaw mona No listen her


ROILA is currently only available for the Lego Mindstorms NXT. It uses the CMU Sphinx speech recognition library to interpret spoken commands to the NXT, and transform them into ROILA commands.


  1. "ROILA, a New Spoken Language Designed for Robots". Popular Science Magazine. Retrieved 2013-11-01. 
  2. "About". ROILA. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  3. "Robot Interaction Language (ROILA) | SciVee". Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  4. Zuras, Matthew (2010-07-16). "Will You Learn ROILA, the Robot Language, to Befriend Your Robot Overlords?". Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  5. "Language Guide". ROILA. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  6. Stedman, Alison; Bartneck, Christoph; Sutherland, Dean (2011). Learning ROILA. CreateSpace. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-4664-9497-8. OCLC 794224374. 
  7. Mubin, Omar (2011). "Parts of Speech". ROILA: RObot Interaction LAnguage (PDF) (PhD). p. 39. ISBN 978-90-386-2505-8. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 March 2016.

External links Interaction Language was the original source. Read more.