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Human-Robot Interaction

Posted February 09, 2014 12:56 PM by CR4 Guest Author

Technology and Humans

There's no doubt in anyone's mind that technology has excelled tremendously over the past few decades. Whether it's computers, phones, or other gadgets, we have definitely come a long way.

But most recently, the most groundbreaking technology seems to be robotics. Things that once took a large amount of time and work to accomplish now take much less time with the help of robotics. Whether it's in an industrial setting or just in a home setting, robots are beginning to become integrated into our lives more and more.

However, with all of this new technology and all of these impressive advancements, the importance of teaching people how to properly interact with robots is becoming ever more important. In industrial settings, this is typically in the form of formal training programs or classes that allow workers to fully understand how the robots work so that they can safely use them.

Robotics in the workplace are now becoming more than just putting the piece of technology at its station and letting it work. Interaction between workers and the robots is becoming more of the norm.

Human-Robot Interaction

Human-robot interaction (HRI) is a step toward allowing workers and robots to work together effectively. Often times when a robot is used in an industrial setting, it is zoned off and workers are not permitted to get too close to it for safety reasons.

But part of the newest HRI developments is creating robots that are "human-friendly" and won't pose a threat to workers nearby. This can be done through the use of sensors on the robot so that when a person approaches it, it slows down or stops its movement so as to not cause injury.

And thanks to new, more advanced algorithms, robots that can move much more gently and anticipate what humans around them are going to do are being created. This anticipation function will better allow robots to be of more help because they will be able to determine what exactly a person near them needs.


One very interesting thing that has been done by a study from MIT is called cross-training. In this study, humans and robots that performed tasks together in the workplace did something different to help their teamwork efforts-they swapped roles.

For instance, one task was on an assembly line where the human would place a screw somewhere and the robot would drill the screw in. When the human and robot switched roles-the robot placing the screw and the human drilling-the robot was able to observe how the human did the drilling. Then when the robot would go back to drilling, it had learned how the human preferred the drilling to be done and could do it that way.

This study ultimately showed that through cross-training, both humans and robots were better able to work together in the workplace. It helped improve teamwork skills and make human-robot interaction easier and more efficient than it was with those who didn't use cross-training.

All of this is to say that great steps are being made toward easier and safer human-robot interaction. It's not a crazy idea to imagine a world that will soon consist of humans and robots working together so closely in everyday life.

With all of the advancements that have already been made, it will be exciting to see what's going to come next.

Editor's Note: Brianna Martin is a freelance writer from Lancaster, Pennsylvania who has been published across the web. The topics she has covered span from technological advancements to industrial operations and solutions for companies like Kuka Robotics who are constantly pushing the limits when it comes to interactive engineering.



Dig a little deeper into the MIT study done on human to robot interaction.


Upcoming events will be highlighting the latest industry news on HRI. The HRI 2014 will be featuring speakers, workshops, and programs for companies, researchers, innovators, and anyone looking to learn more about the subject.


It wouldn't be a trend if Google wasn't doing it. Google has acquired eight robotic companies in the past two months.


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