Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 11

Human-Robot Interaction Related Abstracts

11 Wearable Interface for Telepresence in Robotics

Authors: Uriel Martinez-Hernandez, Luke W. Boorman, Hamideh Kerdegari, Tony J. Prescott


In this paper, we present architecture for the study of telepresence, immersion and human-robot interaction. The architecture is built around a wearable interface, developed here, that provides the human with visual, audio and tactile feedback from a remote location. We have chosen to interface the system with the iCub humanoid robot, as it mimics many human sensory modalities, such as vision, with gaze control and tactile feedback. This allows for a straightforward integration of multiple sensory modalities, but also offers a more complete immersion experience for the human. These systems are integrated, controlled and synchronised by an architecture developed for telepresence and human-robot interaction. Our wearable interface allows human participants to observe and explore a remote location, while also being able to communicate verbally with humans located in the remote environment. Our approach has been tested from local, domestic and business venues, using wired, wireless and Internet based connections. This has involved the implementation of data compression to maintain data quality to improve the immersion experience. Initial testing has shown the wearable interface to be robust. The system will endow humans with the ability to explore and interact with other humans at remote locations using multiple sensing modalities.

Keywords: Virtual Reality, Human-Robot Interaction, Telerobotics, Telepresence

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10 MAGNI Dynamics: A Vision-Based Kinematic and Dynamic Upper-Limb Model for Intelligent Robotic Rehabilitation

Authors: Alexandros Lioulemes, Michail Theofanidis, Varun Kanal, Konstantinos Tsiakas, Maher Abujelala, Chris Collander, William B. Townsend, Angie Boisselle, Fillia Makedon


This paper presents a home-based robot-rehabilitation instrument, called ”MAGNI Dynamics”, that utilized a vision-based kinematic/dynamic module and an adaptive haptic feedback controller. The system is expected to provide personalized rehabilitation by adjusting its resistive and supportive behavior according to a fuzzy intelligence controller that acts as an inference system, which correlates the user’s performance to different stiffness factors. The vision module uses the Kinect’s skeletal tracking to monitor the user’s effort in an unobtrusive and safe way, by estimating the torque that affects the user’s arm. The system’s torque estimations are justified by capturing electromyographic data from primitive hand motions (Shoulder Abduction and Shoulder Forward Flexion). Moreover, we present and analyze how the Barrett WAM generates a force-field with a haptic controller to support or challenge the users. Experiments show that by shifting the proportional value, that corresponds to different stiffness factors of the haptic path, can potentially help the user to improve his/her motor skills. Finally, potential areas for future research are discussed, that address how a rehabilitation robotic framework may include multisensing data, to improve the user’s recovery process.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Dynamics, Kinematics, rehabilitation robotics, Human-Robot Interaction, kinect, haptic control

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9 Analysis of Stress and Strain in Head Based Control of Cooperative Robots through Tetraplegics

Authors: Jochen Nelles, Susanne Kohns, Julia Spies, Friederike Schmitz-Buhl, Roland Thietje, Christopher Brandl, Alexander Mertens, Christopher M. Schlick


Industrial robots as part of highly automated manufacturing are recently developed to cooperative (light-weight) robots. This offers the opportunity of using them as assistance robots and to improve the participation in professional life of disabled or handicapped people such as tetraplegics. Robots under development are located within a cooperation area together with the working person at the same workplace. This cooperation area is an area where the robot and the working person can perform tasks at the same time. Thus, working people and robots are operating in the immediate proximity. Considering the physical restrictions and the limited mobility of tetraplegics, a hands-free robot control could be an appropriate approach for a cooperative assistance robot. To meet these requirements, the research project MeRoSy (human-robot synergy) develops methods for cooperative assistance robots based on the measurement of head movements of the working person. One research objective is to improve the participation in professional life of people with disabilities and, in particular, mobility impaired persons (e.g. wheelchair users or tetraplegics), whose participation in a self-determined working life is denied. This raises the research question, how a human-robot cooperation workplace can be designed for hands-free robot control. Here, the example of a library scenario is demonstrated. In this paper, an empirical study that focuses on the impact of head movement related stress is presented. 12 test subjects with tetraplegia participated in the study. Tetraplegia also known as quadriplegia is the worst type of spinal cord injury. In the experiment, three various basic head movements were examined. Data of the head posture were collected by a motion capture system; muscle activity was measured via surface electromyography and the subjective mental stress was assessed via a mental effort questionnaire. The muscle activity was measured for the sternocleidomastoid (SCM), the upper trapezius (UT) or trapezius pars descendens, and the splenius capitis (SPL) muscle. For this purpose, six non-invasive surface electromyography sensors were mounted on the head and neck area. An analysis of variance shows differentiated muscular strains depending on the type of head movement. Systematically investigating the influence of different basic head movements on the resulting strain is an important issue to relate the research results to other scenarios. At the end of this paper, a conclusion will be drawn and an outlook of future work will be presented.

Keywords: Human-Robot Interaction, motion capture, surface electromyography, assistance robot, stress-strain-concept, tetraplegia

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8 Use of Socially Assistive Robots in Early Rehabilitation to Promote Mobility for Infants with Motor Delays

Authors: Elena Kokkoni, Prasanna Kannappan, Ashkan Zehfroosh, Effrosyni Mavroudi, Kristina Strother-Garcia, James C. Galloway, Jeffrey Heinz, Rene Vidal, Herbert G. Tanner


Early immobility affects the motor, cognitive, and social development. Current pediatric rehabilitation lacks the technology that will provide the dosage needed to promote mobility for young children at risk. The addition of socially assistive robots in early interventions may help increase the mobility dosage. The aim of this study is to examine the feasibility of an early intervention paradigm where non-walking infants experience independent mobility while socially interacting with robots. A dynamic environment is developed where both the child and the robot interact and learn from each other. The environment involves: 1) a range of physical activities that are goal-oriented, age-appropriate, and ability-matched for the child to perform, 2) the automatic functions that perceive the child’s actions through novel activity recognition algorithms, and decide appropriate actions for the robot, and 3) a networked visual data acquisition system that enables real-time assessment and provides the means to connect child behavior with robot decision-making in real-time. The environment was tested by bringing a two-year old boy with Down syndrome for eight sessions. The child presented delays throughout his motor development with the current being on the acquisition of walking. During the sessions, the child performed physical activities that required complex motor actions (e.g. climbing an inclined platform and/or staircase). During these activities, a (wheeled or humanoid) robot was either performing the action or was at its end point 'signaling' for interaction. From these sessions, information was gathered to develop algorithms to automate the perception of activities which the robot bases its actions on. A Markov Decision Process (MDP) is used to model the intentions of the child. A 'smoothing' technique is used to help identify the model’s parameters which are a critical step when dealing with small data sets such in this paradigm. The child engaged in all activities and socially interacted with the robot across sessions. With time, the child’s mobility was increased, and the frequency and duration of complex and independent motor actions were also increased (e.g. taking independent steps). Simulation results on the combination of the MDP and smoothing support the use of this model in human-robot interaction. Smoothing facilitates learning MDP parameters from small data sets. This paradigm is feasible and provides an insight on how social interaction may elicit mobility actions suggesting a new early intervention paradigm for very young children with motor disabilities. Acknowledgment: This work has been supported by NIH under grant #5R01HD87133.

Keywords: Machine Learning, Human-Robot Interaction, Activity Recognition, pediatric rehabilitation

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7 Designing Expressive Behaviors to Improve Human-Robot Relationships

Authors: Sahil Anand, John Luetke, Nikhil Venkatesh, Dorothy Wong


Trust plays an important role in building and sustaining long-term relationships between people. In this paper, we present a robot that communicates using nonverbal behaviors such as facial expressions and body movements. Our study reports on an experiment in which participants were asked to team up with the robot to perform specific tasks. We varied the expressivity of the robot and measured the effects on trust, quality of interactions as well as on the praising and punishing behavior of the participant towards the robot. We found that participants developed a stronger affinity towards the expressive robot, but did not show any significant differences in the level of trust. When the same robot made mistakes, participants unconsciously punished it with lesser intensity compared to the neutral robot. The results emphasize the role of expressive behaviors on participant’s perception of the robot and also on the quality of interactions between humans and robots.

Keywords: Trust, Nonverbal Communication, Human-Robot Interaction, Relationships, social robot

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6 The Human Rights Code: Fundamental Rights as the Basis of Human-Robot Coexistence

Authors: Gergely G. Karacsony


Fundamental rights are the result of thousand years’ progress of legislation, adjudication and legal practice. They serve as the framework of peaceful cohabitation of people, protecting the individual from any abuse by the government or violation by other people. Artificial intelligence, however, is the development of the very recent past, being one of the most important prospects to the future. Artificial intelligence is now capable of communicating and performing actions the same way as humans; such acts are sometimes impossible to tell from actions performed by flesh-and-blood people. In a world, where human-robot interactions are more and more common, a new framework of peaceful cohabitation is to be found. Artificial intelligence, being able to take part in almost any kind of interaction where personal presence is not necessary without being recognized as a non-human actor, is now able to break the law, violate people’s rights, and disturb social peace in many other ways. Therefore, a code of peaceful coexistence is to be found or created. We should consider the issue, whether human rights can serve as the code of ethical and rightful conduct in the new era of artificial intelligence and human coexistence. In this paper, we will examine the applicability of fundamental rights to human-robot interactions as well as to the actions of artificial intelligence performed without human interaction whatsoever. Robot ethics has been a topic of discussion and debate of philosophy, ethics, computing, legal sciences and science fiction writing long before the first functional artificial intelligence has been introduced. Legal science and legislation have approached artificial intelligence from different angles, regulating different areas (e.g. data protection, telecommunications, copyright issues), but they are only chipping away at the mountain of legal issues concerning robotics. For a widely acceptable and permanent solution, a more general set of rules would be preferred to the detailed regulation of specific issues. We argue that human rights as recognized worldwide are able to be adapted to serve as a guideline and a common basis of coexistence of robots and humans. This solution has many virtues: people don’t need to adjust to a completely unknown set of standards, the system has proved itself to withstand the trials of time, legislation is easier, and the actions of non-human entities are more easily adjudicated within their own framework. In this paper we will examine the system of fundamental rights (as defined in the most widely accepted source, the 1966 UN Convention on Human Rights), and try to adapt each individual right to the actions of artificial intelligence actors; in each case we will examine the possible effects on the legal system and the society of such an approach, finally we also examine its effect on the IT industry.

Keywords: Human Rights, Human-Robot Interaction, Robot Ethics, artificial intelligence and law

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5 CyberSteer: Cyber-Human Approach for Safely Shaping Autonomous Robotic Behavior to Comply with Human Intention

Authors: Vinicius G. Goecks, Gregory M. Gremillion, William D. Nothwang


Modern approaches to train intelligent agents rely on prolonged training sessions, high amounts of input data, and multiple interactions with the environment. This restricts the application of these learning algorithms in robotics and real-world applications, in which there is low tolerance to inadequate actions, interactions are expensive, and real-time processing and action are required. This paper addresses this issue introducing CyberSteer, a novel approach to efficiently design intrinsic reward functions based on human intention to guide deep reinforcement learning agents with no environment-dependent rewards. CyberSteer uses non-expert human operators for initial demonstration of a given task or desired behavior. The trajectories collected are used to train a behavior cloning deep neural network that asynchronously runs in the background and suggests actions to the deep reinforcement learning module. An intrinsic reward is computed based on the similarity between actions suggested and taken by the deep reinforcement learning algorithm commanding the agent. This intrinsic reward can also be reshaped through additional human demonstration or critique. This approach removes the need for environment-dependent or hand-engineered rewards while still being able to safely shape the behavior of autonomous robotic agents, in this case, based on human intention. CyberSteer is tested in a high-fidelity unmanned aerial vehicle simulation environment, the Microsoft AirSim. The simulated aerial robot performs collision avoidance through a clustered forest environment using forward-looking depth sensing and roll, pitch, and yaw references angle commands to the flight controller. This approach shows that the behavior of robotic systems can be shaped in a reduced amount of time when guided by a non-expert human, who is only aware of the high-level goals of the task. Decreasing the amount of training time required and increasing safety during training maneuvers will allow for faster deployment of intelligent robotic agents in dynamic real-world applications.

Keywords: Intelligent Robots, Robot Learning, Human-Robot Interaction, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, semisupervised learning

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4 Mathematical Description of Functional Motion and Application as a Feeding Mode for General Purpose Assistive Robots

Authors: Martin Leroux, Sylvain Brisebois


Eating a meal is among the Activities of Daily Living, but it takes a lot of time and effort for people with physical or functional limitations. Dedicated technologies are cumbersome and not portable, while general-purpose assistive robots such as wheelchair-based manipulators are too hard to control for elaborate continuous motion like eating. Eating with such devices has not previously been automated, since there existed no description of a feeding motion for uncontrolled environments. In this paper, we introduce a feeding mode for assistive manipulators, including a mathematical description of trajectories for motions that are difficult to perform manually such as gathering and scooping food at a defined/desired pace. We implement these trajectories in a sequence of movements for a semi-automated feeding mode which can be controlled with a very simple 3-button interface, allowing the user to have control over the feeding pace. Finally, we demonstrate the feeding mode with a JACO robotic arm and compare the eating speed, measured in bites per minute of three eating methods: a healthy person eating unaided, a person with upper limb limitations or disability using JACO with manual control, and a person with limitations using JACO with the feeding mode. We found that the feeding mode allows eating about 5 bites per minute, which should be sufficient to eat a meal under 30min.

Keywords: Human-Robot Interaction, assistive robotics, elderly care, Trajectory Design, automated feeding

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3 Analysis of the Use of a NAO Robot to Improve Social Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Saudi Arabia

Authors: Eman Alarfaj, Hissah Alabdullatif, Huda Alabdullatif, Ghazal Albakri, Nor Shahriza Abdul Karim


Autism Spectrum Disorder is extensively spread amid children; it affects their social, communication and interactive skills. As robotics technology has been proven to be a significant helpful utility those able individuals to overcome their disabilities. Robotic technology is used in ASD therapy. The purpose of this research is to show how Nao robots can improve the social skills for children who suffer from autism in Saudi Arabia by interacting with the autistic child and perform a number of tasks. The objective of this research is to identify, implement, and test the effectiveness of the module for interacting with ASD children in an autism center in Saudi Arabia. The methodology in this study followed the ten layers of protocol that needs to be followed during any human-robot interaction. Also, in order to elicit the scenario module, TEACCH Autism Program was adopted. Six different qualified interaction modules have been elicited and designed in this study; the robot will be programmed to perform these modules in a series of controlled interaction sessions with the Autistic children to enhance their social skills.

Keywords: Human-Robot Interaction, Social Skills, ASD, humanoid robot Nao

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2 Empirical Investigation of Gender Differences in Information Processing Style, Tinkering, and Self-Efficacy for Robot Tele-Operation

Authors: Dilruba Showkat, Cindy Grimm


As robots become more ubiquitous, it is significant for us to understand how different groups of people respond to possible ways of interacting with the robot. In this study, we focused on gender differences while users were tele-operating a humanoid robot that was physically co-located with them. We investigated three factors during the human-robot interaction (1) information processing strategy (2) self-efficacy and (3) tinkering or exploratory behavior. The experimental results show that the information on how to use the robot was processed comprehensively by the female participants whereas males processed them selectively (p < 0.001). Males were more confident when using the robot than females (p = 0.0002). Males tinkered more with the robot than females (p = 0.0021). We found that tinkering was positively correlated (p = 0.0068) with task success and negatively correlated (p = 0.0032) with task completion time. Tinkering might have resulted in greater task success and lower task completion time for males. Findings from this research can be used for making design decisions for robots and open new research directions. Our results show the importance of accounting for gender differences when developing interfaces for interacting with robots and open new research directions.

Keywords: Human-Robot Interaction, Humanoid Robots, Gender Differences, tele-operation

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1 A Conceptualization of the Relationship between Frontline Service Robots and Humans in Service Encounters and the Effect on Well-Being

Authors: D. Berg, N. Hartley, L. Nasr


This paper presents a conceptual model of human-robot interaction within service encounters and the effect on the well-being of both consumers and service providers. In this paper, service providers are those employees who work alongside frontline service robots. The significance of this paper lies in the knowledge created which outlines how frontline service robots can be effectively utilized in service encounters for the benefit of organizations and society as a whole. As this paper is conceptual in nature, the main methodologies employed are theoretical, namely problematization and theory building. The significance of this paper is underpinned by the shift of service robots from manufacturing plants and factory floors to consumer-facing service environments. This service environment places robots in direct contact with frontline employees and consumers creating a hybrid workplace where humans work alongside service robots. This change from back-end to front-end roles may have implications not only on the physical environment, servicescape, design, and strategy of service offerings and encounters but also on the human parties of the service encounter itself. Questions such as ‘how are frontline service robots impacting and changing the service encounter?’ and ‘what effect are such changes having on the well-being of the human actors in a service encounter?’ spring to mind. These questions form the research question of this paper. To truly understand social service robots, an interdisciplinary perspective is required. Besides understanding the function, system, design or mechanics of a service robot, it is also necessary to understand human-robot interaction. However not simply human-robot interaction, but particularly what happens when such robots are placed in commercial settings and when human-robot interaction becomes consumer-robot interaction and employee-robot interaction? A service robot in this paper is characterized by two main factors; its social characteristics and the consumer-facing environment within which it operates. The conceptual framework presented in this paper contributes to interdisciplinary discussions surrounding social robotics, service, and technology’s impact on consumer and service provider well-being, and hopes that such knowledge will help improve services, as well as the prosperity and well-being of society.

Keywords: Well-being, Human-Robot Interaction, frontline service robots, service encounters

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