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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2024
  2. Robotic technology can benefit disassembly operations by reducing human operators’ workload and assisting them with handling hazardous materials. Safety consideration and predicting human movement is a priority in human-robot close collaboration. The point-by-point forecasting of human hand motion which forecasts one point at each time does not provide enough information on human movement due to errors between the actual movement and predicted value. This study provides a range of possible hand movements to enhance safety. It applies three machine learning techniques including Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM), Gated Recurrent Unit (GRU), and Bayesian Neural Network (BNN) combined with Bagging and Monte Carlo Dropout (MCD), namely LSTM-Bagging, GRU-Bagging, and BNN-MCD to predict the possible movement range. The study uses an Inertial Measurement Units (IMU) dataset collected from the disassembly of desktop computers to show the application of the proposed method. The findings reveal that BNN-MCD outperforms other models in forecasting the range of possible hand movement. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  3. Abstract Disassembly is an essential step for remanufacturing end-of-life (EOL) products. Optimization of disassembly sequences and the utilization of robotic technology could alleviate the labor-intensive nature of dismantling operations. This study proposes an optimization framework for disassembly sequence planning under uncertainty considering human–robot collaboration. The proposed framework combines three attributes: disassembly cost, safety, and complexity of disassembly, namely disassembleability, to identify the optimal disassembly path and allocate operations between human and robot. A multi-attribute utility function is used to address uncertainty and make a tradeoff among multiple attributes. The disassembly time reflects the cost of disassembly which is assumed to be an uncertain parameter with a Beta distribution; the disassembleability evaluates the feasibility of conducting operations by robot; finally, the safety index ensures the protection of human workers in the work environment. An example of dismantling a desktop computer is used to show the application. The model identifies the optimal disassembly sequence with less disassembly cost, high disassembleability, and increased safety index while allocating disassembly operations among human and robot. A sensitivity analysis is conducted to show the model's performance when changing the disassembly cost for the robot. 
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  4. A rapid rise in the recycling and remanufacturing of end-of-use electronic waste (e-waste) has been observed due to multiple factors including our increased dependence on electronic products and the lack of resources to meet the demand. E-waste disassembly, which is the operation of extracting valuable components for recycling purposes, has received ever increasing attention as it can serve both the economy and the environment. Traditionally, e-waste disassembly is labor intensive with significant occupational hazards. To reduce labor costs and enhance working efficiency, collaborative robots (cobots) might be a viable option and the feasibility of deploying cobots in high-risk or low value-added e-waste disassembly operations is of tremendous significance to be investigated. Therefore, the major objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of working with a cobot during e-waste disassembly processes on human workload and ergonomics through a human subject experiment. Statistical results revealed that using a cobot to assist participants with the desktop disassembly task reduced the sum of the NASA-TLX scores significantly compared to disassembling by themselves (p = 0.001). With regard to ergonomics, a significant reduction was observed in participants’ mean L5/S1 flexion angle as well as mean shoulder flexion angle on both sides when working with the cobot (p < 0.001). However, participants took a significantly longer time to accomplish the disassembly task when working with the cobot (p < 0.001), indicating a trade-off of deploying cobot in the e-waste disassembly process. Results from this study could advance the knowledge of how human workers would behave and react during human-robot collaborative e-waste disassembly tasks and shed light on the design of better HRC for this specific context. 
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  5. Polystyrene (PS) is one of the most used, yet infrequently recycled plastics. Although manufactured on the scale of 300 million tons per year globally, current approaches toward PS degradation are energy- and carbon-inefficient, slow, and/or lim- ited in the value that they reclaim. We recently reported a scalable process to degrade post-consumer polyethylene-containing waste streams into carboxylic diacids. Engineered fungal strains then upgrade these diacids biosynthetically to synthesize pharmacologi- cally active secondary metabolites. Herein, we apply a similar reaction to rapidly convert PS to benzoic acid in high yield. Engi- neered strains of the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans then biosynthetically upgrade PS-derived crude benzoic acid to the structurally diverse secondary metabolites ergothioneine, pleuromutilin, and mutilin. Further, we expand the catalog of plastic- derived products to include spores of the industrially relevant biocontrol agent Aspergillus flavus Af36 from crude PS-derived ben- zoic acid. 
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  6. Cleaning work is a labor-intensive job that frequently exposes workers to substantial occupational hazards. Unfortunately, the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has increased the pressure on janitors and cleaners to meet the rising need for a safe and hygienic environment, particularly in grocery stores, where the majority of people get their daily necessities. To reduce the occupational hazards and fulfill the new challenges of COVID-19, autonomous cleaning robots, have been designed to complement human workers. However, a lack of understanding of the new generation of cleaning tools’ acceptance may raise safety concerns when they’re deployed. Therefore, a video-based survey was developed and distributed to 32 participants, aiming to assess human acceptance of the cleaning robot in grocery environments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the effects of four factors (gender, work experience, knowledge, and pet) that may influence human acceptance of the cleaning robot were also examined. In general, our findings revealed a non-negative human acceptance of the cleaning robot, which is a positive sign of deploying cleaning robots in grocery stores to reduce the workload of employees and decrease COIVID-related anxiety and safety concerns of customers. Furthermore, prior knowledge of robotics was observed to have a significant effect on participants’ acceptance of the cleaning robot ( p = 0.039). 
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  7. Abstract

    As technology advances, Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) is boosting overall system efficiency and productivity. However, allowing robots to be present closely with humans will inevitably put higher demands on precise human motion tracking and prediction. Datasets that contain both humans and robots operating in the shared space are receiving growing attention as they may facilitate a variety of robotics and human-systems research. Datasets that track HRI with rich information other than video images during daily activities are rarely seen. In this paper, we introduce a novel dataset that focuses on social navigation between humans and robots in a future-oriented Wholesale and Retail Trade (WRT) environment (https://uf-retail-cobot-dataset.github.io/). Eight participants performed the tasks that are commonly undertaken by consumers and retail workers. More than 260 minutes of data were collected, including robot and human trajectories, human full-body motion capture, eye gaze directions, and other contextual information. Comprehensive descriptions of each category of data stream, as well as potential use cases are included. Furthermore, analysis with multiple data sources and future directions are discussed.

     
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