Cross-training holds the key to successful cooperation between humans and robots, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers.
A longstanding obstacle to human-robot collaboration has been that humans do not perform tasks in the same manner each time. To tackle this issue, MIT researchers developed an algorithm that enables robots to learn from switching roles with humans in a manufacturing setting, which requires the robots to acquire information through demonstration. Cross-training increased collaboration between humans and robots by 71 percent and reduced the time humans spent waiting for robots to complete a task by 41 percent. Furthermore, people felt that robots cooperated more efficiently after cross-training.
Human-robot collaboration also has been the focus of other research, including a Harvard University project to develop a smart suit to improve soldier endurance in war zones. Using sensors and equipped with its own energy source, the suit would postpone fatigue to allow soldiers to travel farther and would protect the body from heavy loads.
Meanwhile, Toyota Motor last year announced plans for robotic health-care aids to lift patients and help paralyzed people walk.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration says such collaborations also will be necessary for future space missions.
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