Human-Robots Interaction:
Robotics Institute Focus Area
Vineet Kamat (CEE)
Emily Mower Provost (CSE)
Nadine Sarter (IOE)
Dawn Tilbury (ME)
Human commander/supervisor
• “Autonomous” robots are rarely purely autonomous, there
must be some level of human interaction, although these
challenges are not always considered
• Issues to consider in a human-robot coordination:
– Mutual understanding, modeling on both sides
• Can robot understand the human (e.g. emotion? Workload of
• Directed attention: Can robot get attention of human? And vice-versa
– Function allocation in human-robot teams
• How to learn states of agents (both human & robot)
– Levels of autonomy, how to allocate for different tasks
– Social aspects of mixed teams, expectations of partnership –
• Spillover boundaries from engineering to social science
Physical interaction of human & robot
Teleoperation opportunities and challenges:
Virtual and augmented reality, visual feedback
Tactile/haptic feedback
Mechanical devices for sending commands (master/slave), joysticks, tablet computers
Voice and gesture commands
Sense of presence in remote environment
Teleoperation of a swarm of robots
Human(s) & robot(s) working closely together in a shared environment,
– Safety, certification: can the robot get out of the cage?
– Human driver in a car, how to interact, dynamic environment
Exoskeletons: Robotics integrated with human limbs
If the car “gives up” the human has to take on the cognitive load. Need a transition period.
Q: Does the human need to be the commander all the time? Keep the human alert?
Augment construction workers or other laborers
Embodiment: robot becomes part of human (wearable robots), using robot to interface to
Robots & humans working together to change the environment
– Robot is a tool for doing work on the environment
– Also exploring/gathering info from environment
Other HRI considerations
• Can the robot be considered as an extension of
human (not delegate or partner)
– Human’s perception of remote environment,
– Transfer of emotions to robot
• How to characterize expectations of robot?
• Rights of robots – philosophical issues?
– Also responsibilities?
• Hierarchy: Is human top/environment bottom?
– “affordances” from psychology
– Emergent behaviors? Unexpected behaviors?
Others interested in HRI (?)
Ben Kuipers (CSE)
Ella Atkins (Aero)
Kira Barton (ME)
Gabor Orosz (ME)
Cindy Chestek (BME), brain-machine interface
Rehab robotics: Art, David, Brent, etc.
School of Information
– Mark Newman
– Lionel Robert (human-human interaction)
• Medical school interest in surgical robotics
• Somebody from psychology? (Toni Antonucci?)

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