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Human–robot interaction

Human–robot interaction

Human-robot interaction refers to the discipline that studies the interaction between humans and robots and tends to be a multi-disciplinary field of research and development.


Human-robot interaction is a discipline studying the interaction between humans and complex robotics, particularly in consumer interaction with robotics developed for real-world applications, such as rehabilitation, eldercare, and other assistive and educational applications. The role of these robots and related robotic platforms is expanding and diversifying and has led to an extension into the study of these interactions, with researchers from robotics, artificial intelligence, psychology, and sociology aiming to understand these interactions.

Goals of human-robot interaction

The overall goal of the research conducted under the umbrella of human-robot interaction is to contribute to the development of knowledge, methods, and algorithms for natural and transparent interactions between humans and robots. Put another way, to enable humans and robots to interact effectively and cooperatively in unstructured and shared spaces using various methods of exchange, including verbal and non-verbal.

Further, improving interactions between humans and robots can increase the availability of robotic systems for non-specialists. Improvement can mean robots are more adaptable to different human users, regardless of expertise, with the same robots working to adapt to new tasks, situations, and environments. Effective human-robot collaboration means that humans can use robots to solve specific, real-world challenges.

Human perception of robots

Human-robot interaction includes a body of research into the human perception of robot systems, including user-friendliness, the question of design, and ethical considerations. The aim of this research is to improve the user-friendliness of a robotic system, enhance the "approachability" or the ease with which people will accept a robotic system, and increase a robotic system's usefulness and the ability of a user to extract the most out of a robotic system.

Robot perception of humans

On the other side, part of human-robot interaction studies is to develop systems and methods for robots to better perceive humans in the environment, such as extracting human kinematics to understand their movements through an environment and producing robots that are socially competent and can interact with humans in a socially intelligent way.

Types of interaction

By definition, interaction requires communication between robots and humans, which can be facilitated in several forms that are largely defined by proximity. There are two general categories of interaction: remote interaction, in which the human and robot are not co-located and are separated spatially or even temporally, and proximate interaction, in which humans and robots are co-located. As suggested, this communication can be natural, such as asking or telling a robotics system what to do, or it can be less natural and use various types of interfaces, such as controls or programming commands, to direct a robotic system.

These interactions include three main styles of interaction: autonomous, human-led, and robot-led. Robots can proactively help a human or can be controlled by humans, but it depends on the task and the robotic system's fluency for preference. For example, for simple and highly automatable tasks, proactive action from robotic systems can speed up completion and is appreciated by human users. However, in complex situations and tasks, a robotic system can aid its own understanding of a human's intentions by provoking a reaction to confirm or disprove the information, with human operators often preferring to control the robotic system in those complex situations.

As part of developing interactions, studies have looked into the frustration involved in interacting with robots, which can be positive as the frustration shown through human-robot collaborative experiments can help researchers develop better user experiences. This has come in a range of changes in behavior in the technical system used, as well as a change in participants' interactions with robotic systems over time.

Companies developing human-robot interaction systems


Further Resources


Introduction to Human-Robot Interaction



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