Robotic Assistants to Humans in the Factory
Recent advances in computation, sensing, and hardware enable robotics to perform an increasing percentage of traditionally manual tasks. Yet, often the assembly mechanic cannot be removed entirely from the process. This provides new economic motivation to explore opportunities where assembly mechanics and industrial robots may work in close physical collaboration. To harness the relative strengths of humans and robots, we must develop robots that seamlessly integrate with human group dynamics. Although there are numerous studies on human teamwork and coordination in high-intensity domains, very little prior work exists on applying these models to human-robot interaction. In this talk, I describe ongoing work aimed at translating qualitative insights from human factors engineering into quantitative, predictive models that improve human-robot teamwork. I discuss two key challenges: learning team fluency through experience and practice of repetitive tasks, and pre-planning for team coordination in novel tasks.