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Robots are everywhere – improving the way they interact with humans can promote human-robot collaboration


robots are machines that can sense the environment and use that information to perform an action. You can find them almost everywhere in industrialized societies today. There are household robots that vacuum floors and warehouse robots who pack and ship goods. Lab robots test hundreds of clinical samples per day. Educational robots support teachers by acting as one-on-one tutors, assistants and conversation facilitators. And medical robotics composed of prosthetic limbs can enable one to grasp and pick up objects with his mind.

Figuring out how humans and robots can work together to perform tasks effectively together is a rapidly growing area of ​​interest for the scientists and engineers who design robots, as well as the humans who will use them. Communication is essential for a successful collaboration between humans and robots.

Robotics can help patients regain physical function during rehabilitation.
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

How humans interact with robots

Robots were originally designed to perform repetitive and mundane tasks and work only in robot-only zones, such as factories. Robots have since evolved to collaborate with humans with new ways of communicating with each other.

cooperative control is a way of transferring information and messages between a robot and a person. It’s about combining human capabilities and decision-making with robot speed, accuracy, and power to accomplish a task.

For example robots in the agriculture industry can help farmers monitor and harvest crops. A human can control a semi-autonomous vineyard sprayer through a user interface, instead of manually spraying his crops or spraying the entire field wide and risking overuse of pesticides.

Robots can too support patients in physiotherapy. Patients who have had a stroke or spinal cord injury can use robots during rehabilitation to practice hand grips and assisted steps.

Another form of communication perception of emotional intelligence, involves developing robots that adapt their behavior based on social interactions with humans. In this approach, the robot senses a person’s emotions when collaborating on a task, assesses satisfaction and fit, and improves performance based on this feedback.

For example, if the robot detects that a physiotherapy patient is dissatisfied with a particular rehabilitation activity, it can refer the patient to another activity. Facial expression and the ability to recognize body gestures are important design considerations for this approach. Recent advances in machine learning can help robots decipher emotional body language and better interact with and perceive people.

Robots in rehab

Questions such as how robot limbs can feel more natural and be capable of more complex functions such as typing and playing musical instruments have yet to be answered.

I’m a electrical engineer which studies how the brain controls and communicates with other parts of the body, and my lab examines in particular how the brain And hand coordinate signals with each other. Our goal is to design technologies such as prosthetic and wearable robotic exoskeleton devices that could help improve the function of individuals with stroke, spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.

One approach is through brain-computer interfaces, which use brain signals to communicate between robots and humans. By accessing an individual’s brain signals and providing targeted feedback, this technology could potentially improve recovery time rehabilitation after a stroke. Brain-computer interfaces can also help restore some communication skills And physical manipulation of the environment for patients with motor neuron disorders.

Person in wheelchair uses brain-computer interface to steer while a researcher watches
Brain-computer interfaces could allow spinal cord injury patients to control their wheelchair with their thoughts alone.
Rolf Vennenbernd/photo alliance via Getty Images

The future of human-robot interaction

Effective integration of robots into human life requires balancing responsibility between humans and robots and assigning clear roles for both in different environments.

As robots increasingly work hand-in-hand with humans, the ethical questions and challenges they pose cannot be ignored. Worry all around privacy, prejudice and discrimination, security risks And robotic morality should be seriously explored to create a more comfortable, safe and reliable world with robots for everyone. Scientists and engineers study the “dark side” of human-robot interaction develop guidelines to identify and prevent negative outcomes.

Human-robot interaction can affect every aspect of daily life. It is the joint responsibility of both the designers and the users to create a human-robot ecosystem that is safe and satisfying for everyone.

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