AI News, Why Robots?

Why Robots?

World-renowned human-robot interaction expert Elizabeth Croft talks human-centered design, the rules of the handover and why society must embrace cobot technology.

This involves trying to answer the question: 'What are the rules of engagement that allow shared spaces and collaboration between humans and robots to happen in a safe, flexible and efficient manner?'

One of the questions we asked in the CARIS lab is 'How do we have a handover occur where it's not a tug-of-war and it's not so mechanical that it feels unnatural?' The aim is to achieve handovers that are just as simple as me handing you a cup.

The faster they bear the load the faster the person that is letting go will let go.So, the person doing the handover is responsible for safety and the person receiving the object is responsible for timing.

We then encoded those rules as a control algorithm into a robot, which created a really nice, smooth handover algorithm that is so natural, people don't even have to learn how to do it and can immediately start using this interface.

**** The really important thing that we learned from that experiment is that if you're going to have robots interact with people, especially in building-block-type collaboration, you really have to understand how people interact naturally and the social contracts that control activities such as handovers.

source of failure with many robotics projects is that we design these fantastic robots but people don't like them or don't find them useful, or they cause problems because the designers haven't thought in terms of human-centered design.

Do you think current cobot makers are doing a good job of creating effective interactions between humans and cobots?I think about [the dual-arm cobot] Baxter, which we all love and is a fantastic robot assistant with a fantastic story.

The primary source of failure was Baxter's imprecise elastic actuators, but there was a deeper reason for that failure --not understanding what it is that people were trying to achieve with the cobot and how they were going to use it.Baxter was designed to be really safe and people were comfortable using it, but it wasn't accurate enough to meet expectations.

In general, are end-users generally best served by viewing their cobot as a colleague, a tool, a form of prosthesis, or some other category?It depends on the user, the task and the mental construct that you are using to be able to help you get the job done.For example, if you are responsible for control of the task, then the cobot is a tool.

But if you're using a cobot to bring you stuff and perform tasks side-by-side with you, while you perform your own tasks, then I think it's useful to think in terms of leader and follower.Whether a cobot is thought of as a colleague or a tool comes around to how much you understand about the independence and intent of the robot.