The economic crises in 2008 significantly affected the robotics industry. Today, the market is showing clear signs of recovery and an increasing trend. This increase is based mainly on two economic developments: 1) the robotics companies need to remain competitive and 2) the domain of industrial robotics widens from the automotive sector to general industry and small and medium sized industries. In the future, it will become more important for the robotics industry to develop cost-effective robotics solutions. Therefore, key issues, apart from hardware and software adaption, will be a simple, intuitive, and inexpensive way to program/configure robots.
Up to now, robot programming in the industrial context needs experts and still offers room for improvements. A central question is the simplification of robot programming/configuration. This could be done either by improving the existing robot control/programming process or using other approaches. Today, within the industrial context, the programmer has either the option to code a robot program or to remotely control the robot with a so-called teach pendant. Based on the shift from separated to shared human-robot workspaces, other more cooperative robot programming approaches such as Robot Programming by Demonstration (RPbD, e.g. kinesthetic teaching, imitation, sensors on teachers, etc.) are also imaginable.
Our research focus lies on the identification and investigation of user acceptance (UA) and user experience (UX) factors for the simplification of the robot programming process in the factory context. This includes people’s skill levels, shared instead of separated human-robot workspaces, and the impact of the robot’s appearance on UX and UA.
As a first step, we used kinesthetic teaching as an approach to investigate UX and UA factors. Factors already identified as important in our work are the user’s workload, trust, programming background, and the appearance of the robot.
Main research interests:
- User acceptance and experience of robot control/programming approaches
- Impact of robot autonomy levels on human-robot interaction and cooperation
- Support of Robot Programming by Demonstration through mixed reality