Designing for Collaborative Robotics


Robots are starting to work side by side with people and present profound new challenges for interaction, emotion, culture, and technology frameworks. Collaboration is defined as “the action of working with someone to produce or create something.” Robots can only collaborate with us if they are designed for that purpose with safety, communication, and responsiveness in mind. Previously, highly trained technicians and programmers were the only ones allowed to interact with robots that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even technically savvy people were not allowed near the robots when they were running, and safety regulations required the robots to be caged off. New technology is enabling robots to be safer, cheaper, and to work in a wider variety of environments performing new tasks. They are helping doctors, police, fireman, farmers, factory workers, disabled patients, soldiers, cleaners, and warehouse employees. The huge increase in deployed robots means they will interact with millions of untrained and unprepared people.

In the 1970s, computers were locked in big rooms and only computer scientists had the knowledge and access to program them. The general population was not impacted by computers and was even somewhat unaware of their presence. By 2010 computers were in virtually every workplace and in most homes in the developed part of the world. It took computers about 40 years to explode in numbers, and new interaction design ...

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