Gleeson, B. T., MacLean, K. E., Haddadi, A., Croft, E. and Alcazar, J. “Human-Robot Communication for Collaborative Assembly,” in GRAND General Meeting. Toronto, Canada, 2013, pp. 4 pages.
New developments in robotic technology are paving the way for intelligent robots to enable, support, and enhance the capabilities of human workers in manufacturing environments. While few current industrial robots have any direct human interaction, future robots will work in close proximity to support workers in a variety of tasks, move manufacturing quality and processes forward, and increase productivity. However, in this new regime, safety and efficiency require a new form of fluid, transparent communication. In this paper, we summarize ongoing research to develop a system of gestural communication to meet these goals. We observed pairs of participants collaborating on assembly tasks drawn from analysis of our industry partner (General Motors) assembly lines, and analyzed their verbal and nonverbal exchanges. From this we compiled a gestural lexicon of the communication terms required for collaborative work, and the non-verbal gestures that participants used to express themselves. This lexicon provides the basis for a system of human-robot interaction suitable for industrial tasks and environments.