As a branch of knowledge, human-robot collaboration (HRC)regards the analysis, design, modeling, implementation, and evaluation ofrobots for human use. HRC is strongly related to human-computer interaction(HCI) and human-machine interaction (HMI).
HRC, however, differs from HCI andHMI because HRC concerns systems (i.e., robots) which have complex, dynamiccontrol systems, which exhibit autonomy and cognition, and which operate inchanging, real-world environments. HRC may occur through direct, proximalinteraction (e.g., physical contact) or may be mediated by a user interface(“operator interface” or “control station”).
In the latter case, the interfaceacts as a translator: it transforms human input (from hand-controllers or othercontrol devices) to robot commands and provides feedback via displays. When thehuman and robot are separated by a barrier (distance, time, etc.) andinformation is exchanged via a communication link, then the interaction iscalled teleoperation.Takeda et al.
classify HRC into four categories: Primitiveinteraction is communication via computer-based interfaces; Intimateinteraction is direct, one-to-one interaction (e.g., gesture); Looseinteraction is interaction at a distance; Cooperative interaction involvesautomatically introducing additional robots and people as needed by theinteraction.Milgram, Zhai and Drascic claim that for telemanipulation,human-robot communication can be classified into continuous and discretelanguages. Continuous language represents continuously distributed spatial ortemporal information, e.g.
, analogue displays and input devices such as miceand joysticks. Discrete language consists of independent elements such asspoken commands and interface tools.Laengle, Hoeniger, and Zhu discuss how humans and robotscan function as a team. Humans perform task planning, monitoring andsupervision. Robots act as intelligent, autonomous assistants and interactsymbolically and physically. This interaction is achieved via natural language,gestures, and touch.
Sheridan notes that one of the challenges for human-robotcommunication is to provide humans and robots with models of each other. Inparticular, he claims that the ideal would be analogous to two people who knoweach other well and can pick up subtle cues from one another in order tocollaborate (e.g., musicians playing a duet).In recent years, much of the work in HRC has focused onmaking robots more “human”.
Specifically, many researchers have been developingrobots which perform human tasks, which exhibit human traits, and which caninteract via natural language and gestures.