Keynote presentation

Towards human-robot symbiosis
– control and co-operation with tools and vehicles

Prof. David A. Abbink
Delft University of Technology
The Netherlands

Near-future robot capabilities offer great potential for the next evolution in our society – provided we can effectively control, cooperate and co-exist with this technology.

My talk will focus on the research of my group at the Delft Haptics Lab, where we aim to better understand how humans physically perform dynamic control tasks with robotic tools or vehicles, and design multi-modal interfaces that facilitate control and co-operation. Our research consists of many iterative cycles of human modelling, interface design and human-in-the-loop evaluation, and my talk will also cover these three elements.

First, I will present theory and computational models of the human as an adaptive and learning hierarchical controller that can easily move across strategical, tactical and operational levels of tasks. I will illustrate the power of leveraging understanding of low-level perception-action couplings, developed through techniques from neuroscience and system identification.

Second, I will propose design guidelines for effective control and co-operation, with a particular focus on haptic shared control as a means to mitigate traditional human-automation issues. Third, I will highlight some ‘lessons learned’ in human factors experiments, and our search for methods and metrics that capture relevant human control behaviour. These three elements will be illustrated through practical applications of our work – from telerobotic arms operating in complex remote environments, to highly-automated driving.

I will end with my personal perspectives for the future of our field, including topics like symbiotic driving (mutually adaptive driver-vehicle interaction, which essentially closes the loop on an iterative design and evaluation cycle), and the responsible integration of robotic technologies in our society.

Brief biography

David Abbink is a professor in Haptic Human-Robot Interaction, heading the section of Human-Robot Interaction of the department of Cognitive Robotics of the Faculty 3mE at Delft University of Technology. His research interests include haptics, sensorimotor control, human factors, human-robot interaction, and shared control. He heads the Delft Haptics Lab, of which all activities are shown on the website