Collaborative robots, or co-bots, are robots that work collaboratively with humans in a productivity enhancing process, most often associated with manufacturing and/or healthcare domains. Despite the aim to collaborate, co-bots lack the ability to sense humans and their behaviour appropriately. Instead robots rely on physically mechanical, hierarchical instructions given explicitly by the human, instead of utilizing a more natural means to include pose, expression, and language, and utilize this to determine behaviour. In turn, humans do not understand how the robot makes its decisions. Co-bots also do not utilise human behaviour to learn tasks implicitly, and advances in online and reinforcement learning are needed to enable this.
Industrial Co-bots Understanding Behaviour (I-CUBE) will enable research in human-robot cooperation, bringing together the know-how and research interests of the human factors work in engineering, the automatic human behaviour analysis in computer science and the machine learning work in Horizon.
This projects is part-funded by the University of Nottingham Smart Products Beacons of Excellence.
Latest update August 2021: I-CUBE activity was halted due to the Covid-related lockdown in 2020. Research activity has re-commenced to complete coding and analysis of I-CUBE’s H-H Study. The Speech element of the data will contribute to a language database for speech that may be used in future iterations of cobots.