FABRIC: A Framework for the Design and Evaluation of Collaborative Robots with Extended Human Adaptation


A limitation for collaborative robots (cobots) is their lack of ability to adapt to human partners, who typically exhibit an immense diversity of behaviors. We present an autonomous framework as a cobot’s real-time decision-making mechanism to anticipate a variety of human characteristics and behaviors, including human errors, toward a personalized collaboration. Our framework handles such behaviors in two levels: 1) short-term human behaviors are adapted through our novel Anticipatory Partially Observable Markov Decision Process (A-POMDP) models, covering a human’s changing intent (motivation), availability, and capability; 2) long-term changing human characteristics are adapted by our novel Adaptive Bayesian Policy Selection (ABPS) mechanism that selects a short-term decision model, e.g., an A-POMDP, according to an estimate of a human’s workplace characteristics, such as her expertise and collaboration preferences. To design and evaluate our framework over a diversity of human behaviors, we propose a pipeline where we first train and rigorously test the framework in simulation over novel human models. Then, we deploy and evaluate it on our novel physical experiment setup that induces cognitive load on humans to observe their dynamic behaviors, including their mistakes, and their changing characteristics such as their expertise. We conduct user studies and show that our framework effectively collaborates non-stop for hours and adapts to various changing human behaviors and characteristics in real-time. That increases the efficiency and naturalness of the collaboration with a higher perceived collaboration, positive teammate traits, and human trust. We believe that such an extended human adaptation is key to the long-term use of cobots.

ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction
Benjamin Rosman
Benjamin Rosman
Lab Director

I am a Professor in the School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. I work in robotics, artificial intelligence, decision theory and machine learning.