Organized Sessions

Socio-physical Interaction Skills for Cooperative Human-Robot Systems in Agile Production

Robots are on the verge of co-existing with humans on and beyond industrial sites. They must manage physical and social interactions with humans to achieve reconfigurable and resource-efficient production while improving human comfort and trust in automation. Thus, developing socio-physically aware and ergonomic skills and deploying them in robots capable of reconfigurable productive systems would leverage existing and new systems by making them accessible and understandable to everyone. Two elements should come together to guarantee a successful interaction: how the robot understands and reacts to the human. Given that humans are unfamiliar with interacting with robots, their behavior will change through the task as they learn and get more confident. Therefore, new human-centered designs should improve human work processes by adding decision support tools, assistive and interactive robots, and smart self-adapting workplace automation. Another crucial aspect is ensuring that the core technologies under development are“compliant by design” to standards in human-robot interaction and collaboration. This special session debates HRI beyond task execution, based on recent developments on the SOPHIA European project.

Dr. Gustavo Jose Giardini Lahr,, IIT, Italy
Dr. Arash Ajoudani,, IIT, Italy
Dr. Bram Vanderborght,, VUB, Belgium
Dr. Matteo Bianchi,, UNIPI, Italy


Towards Empathic Agents for Psychological and Physical Assistance

One of the growing trends in social robotics is their use as socially assistive agents, i.e. agents assisting via social interaction. Application areas of such agents include the after-care management of patients coming out of neurological disorders such as depression, or the assistance to elderly navigating through loneliness, cognitive decline, or physical disability. When considering human health professionals, regardless of the assistive goal pursued, real-time awareness of the patient’s physical and psychological status seems to always play a key role in the caregiver’s decision-making process. From a sociological perspective, this observation poses a number of questions. To what extent artificial agents should and can imitate human caregivers? Would people want a machine to know/judge their psychological status? Would they trust the machine’s judgment? Which loops of reflection and correction could be foreseen? How could professional and individual norms and values be reflected in these agent’s development? How would users, both caregivers and caretakers, envision and wish interactions with such agents to be? From a technical perspective, this observation raises the need to (i) develop methods for the perception and modeling of relevant human behaviors/stati, (ii) devise empathic decision-making strategies, and (iii) design user-driven agent behaviors. A robot with such capabilities could, for example, at one moment bring a glass of water to its assisted person and at another motivate the person to go get it by themselves, on the basis of the person’s emotional, psychological and physical status. This session aims to bring together the two aforesaid perspectives to advance research in socio-empathic assistive agents and foster this community’s interdisciplinarity.

Dr. Jauwairia Nasir,, EPFL/University of Augsburg, Germany
Dr. Barbara Bruno,, EPFL, Switzerland
Dr. Linda Nierling,, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany


Human Factors in Construction Robotics

Construction Robotics (robots on construction sites) is gaining wider acceptance and more widespread use. The session will focus on the recent advances on the robotic solutions and will have a special focus on the human factors. Human-robot collaboration and use of exoskeletons in this context will be presented. Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):
• Construction robotics
• Teleoperation
• Simulation of construction processes
• Human-robot collaboration
• Planning of construction processes
• Evaluation of interaction

Dr. Gabor Sziebig,, SINTEF Manufacturing, Norway
Dr. Jason Rambach,, DFKI, Germany
Prof. Mihoko Niitsuma,, Chuo University, Japan