Faculty Advisor

Dmitry Berenson

Faculty Advisor

Michael A. Gennert


"When humans interact, there are many avenues of physical communication available ranging from vocal to physical gestures. In our past observations, when humans collaborate on manipulation tasks in shared workspaces there is often minimal to no verbal or physical communication, yet the collaboration is still fluid with minimal interferences between partners. However, when humans perform similar tasks in the presence of a robot collaborator, manipulation can be clumsy, disconnected, or simply not human-like. The focus of this work is to leverage our observations of human-human interaction in a robot's motion planner in order to facilitate more safe, efficient, and human-like collaborative manipulation in shared workspaces. We first present an approach to formulating the cost function for a motion planner intended for human-robot collaboration such that robot motions are both safe and efficient. To achieve this, we propose two factors to consider in the cost function for the robot's motion planner: (1) Avoidance of the workspace previously-occupied by the human, so robot motion is safe as possible, and (2) Consistency of the robot's motion, so that the motion is predictable as possible for the human and they can perform their task without focusing undue attention on the robot. Our experiments in simulation and a human-robot workspace sharing study compare a cost function that uses only the first factor and a combined cost that uses both factors vs. a baseline method that is perfectly consistent but does not account for the human's previous motion. We find using either cost function we outperform the baseline method in terms of task success rate without degrading the task completion time. The best task success rate is achieved with the cost function that includes both the avoidance and consistency terms. Next, we present an approach to human-attention aware robot motion generation which attempts to convey intent of the robot's task to its collaborator. We capture human attention through the combined use of a wearable eye-tracker and motion capture system. Since human attention isn't static, we present a method of generating a motion policy that can be queried online. Finally, we show preliminary tests of this method."


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Computer Science

Project Type


Date Accepted





human robot collaboration, manipulation planning, motion planning for human robot collaboration