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Swapping roles with humans can boost robot productivity

08 February, 2013

Shah and Nikolaidis found that the period during which human and robot worked at the same time – known as concurrent motion – was 71% higher in teams that had taken part in cross-training, compared to the interactive reward teams. They also found that the amount of time the humans spent doing nothing – while waiting for the robot to complete a task, for example – was 41% lower.

When questioned after the experiment, the human participants were more likely to say the robot had carried out the task according to their preferences and reported greater levels of trust in their robotic teammate. “This is the first evidence that human-robot teamwork is improved when a human and robot train together by switching roles, in a manner similar to effective human team training practices,” says Nikolaidis.

“People aren’t robots, they don’t do things the same way every single time,” adds Shah. “So there is a mismatch between the way we program robots to perform tasks in exactly the same way each time and what we need them to do if they are going to work in concert with people.”




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