Key idea: A new study by Missouri S&T researchers shows how human subjects, walking hand-in-hand with a robot guide, stiffen or relax their arms at different times during the walk. The researchers’ analysis of these movements could aid in the design of smarter, more humanlike robot guides and assistants
Original author and publication date: Missouri University of Science and Technology – November 10, 2022
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: We are creating robots in our own image. Interesting, isn’t it?
From the article:
“This work presents the first measurement and analysis of human arm stiffness during overground physical interaction between a robot leader and a human follower,” the Missouri S&T researchers write in a paper recently published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.
The lead researcher, Dr. Yun Seong Song, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri S&T, describes the findings as “an early step in developing a robot that is humanlike when it physically interacts with a human partner.”
“This is related to the idea of having assistive robots that can seamlessly interact with us,” Song says.
Humans frequently interact with one another without verbal communication or even visual cues when performing certain tasks, such as when one person helps another walk or when a couple dances a waltz. In their Scientific Reports paper, the researchers describe the forces that come into play when a robotic guide walks with humans along three different trajectories.
“At first glance, physical interaction is a dynamic task with power exchanges dictated by the passive properties of the interacting being,” Song says. “But if you examine how humans handle physical interaction, you realize that there has to be constant processing of information and decision making to infer each other’s intent. Uncovering the mechanism through which this happens will help us design future robots that can seamlessly interact with their human partners.
“Even without explicitly shared goals, two human partners can physically interact with each other to perform collaborative tasks,” write Song and his fellow Missouri S&T researchers, Dr. Devin Burns, associate professor of psychological science, and Dr. Sambad Regmi, who earned a Ph.D. from S&T in May 2022. Burns helped design the experiment and “rigorously interpreted the data” while co-mentoring Regmi, Song says.