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Since ROS supports Python I think that Python would be the best language to use. Supposing that all complex functions are implemented on the robot already (object detection, object localization, path planning, motion planning,robot localization), I think actionlib is what you need. you basically create an action server which can start each of the actions that you implemented on the robot. Then you create a python client (the one your friends will use) and define your functions (move,grap,release etc.) so that they ask the action server to start some actions. Actionlib will also send you some feedback about the current state of the action.