Robots can work tirelessly at well-defined repetitive tasks, apply brute strength, provide a steady hand, and perform tasks with submillimeter accuracy. Human contextual awareness, reasoning, memory, and decision-making abilities far surpass even the most advanced robots. Emerging technologies will enable human-robot collaboration to do things neither could accomplish alone but only if designers create the right communication channels. “The future challenge for designers is to find a natural way for robots and people to understand what each other is going to do and change their behaviors accordingly,” said Rodney Brooks, the founder of both iRobot and Rethink Robotics.
Developing Real-World Collaboration Solutions
Design principles based on the latest robotics research and development are an excellent place to start. It is important to trust data from field deployments much more than experiments done in artificial environments with limited sample sizes. The four areas in the list that follows are the foundation of several deployed solutions helping people in real world situations:
- 1. Fit to task and customizable
- 2. Consistent behavior and fluid motion
- 3. Natural feedback and adaptive behavior
- 4. Environmental awareness