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  1. In this paper we investigate the influence interfaces and feedback have on human-robot trust levels when operating in a shared physical space. The task we use is specifying a “no-go” region for a robot in an indoor environment. We evaluate three styles of interface (physical, AR, and map-based) and four feedback mechanisms (no feedback, robot drives around the space, an AR “fence”, and the region marked on the map). Our evaluation looks at both usability and trust. Specifically, if the participant trusts that the robot “knows” where the no-go region is and their confidence in the robot's ability to avoid that region. We use both self-reported and indirect measures of trust and usability. Our key findings are: 1) interfaces and feedback do influence levels of trust; 2) the participants largely preferred a mixed interface-feedback pair, where the modality for the interface differed from the feedback.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 23, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  3. Automated systems like self-driving cars and “smart” thermostats are a challenge for fault-based legal regimes like negligence because they have the potential to behave in unpredictable ways. How can people who build and deploy complex automated systems be said to be at fault when they could not have reasonably anticipated the behavior (and thus risk) of their tools?
  4. We present a method for classifying the quality of near-contact grasps using spatial metrics that are recoverable from sensor data. Current methods often rely on calculating precise contact points, which are difficult to calculate in real life, or on tactile sensors or image data, which may be unavailable for some applications. Our method, in contrast, uses a mix of spatial metrics that do not depend on the fingers being in contact with the object, such as the object's approximate size and location. The grasp quality can be calculated {\em before} the fingers actually contact the object, enabling near-grasp quality prediction. Using a random forest classifier, the resulting system is able to predict grasp quality with 96\% accuracy using spatial metrics based on the locations of the robot palm, fingers and object. Furthermore, it can maintain an accuracy of 90\% when exposed to 10\% noise across all its inputs.
  5. Grasping a simple object from the side is easy-unless the object is almost as big as the hand or space constraints require positioning the robot hand awkwardly with respect to the object. We show that humans-when faced with this challenge-adopt coordinated finger movements which enable them to successfully grasp objects even from these awkward poses. We also show that it is relatively straight forward to implement these strategies autonomously. Our human-studies approach asks participants to perform grasping task by either "puppetteering" a robotic manipulator that is identical (geometrically and kinematically) to a popular underactuated robotic manipulator (the Barrett hand), or using sliders to control the original Barrett hand. Unlike previous studies, this enables us to directly capture and compare human manipulation strategies with robotic ones. Our observation is that, while humans employ underactuation, how they use it is fundamentally different (and more effective) than that found in existing hardware.
  6. Grasping a simple object from the side is easy --- unless the object is almost as big as the hand or space constraints require positioning the robot hand awkwardly with respect to the object. We show that humans --- when faced with this challenge --- adopt coordinated finger movements which enable them to successfully grasp objects even from these awkward poses. We also show that it is relatively straight forward to implement these strategies autonomously. Our human-studies approach asks participants to perform grasping task by either ``puppetteering'' a robotic manipulator that is identical~(geometrically and kinematically) to a popular underactuated robotic manipulator~(the Barrett hand), or using sliders to control the original Barrett hand. Unlike previous studies, this enables us to directly capture and compare human manipulation strategies with robotic ones. Our observation is that, while humans employ underactuation, how they use it is fundamentally different (and more effective) than that found in existing hardware.
  7. In this paper we define two feature representations for grasping. These representations capture hand-object geometric relationships at the near-contact stage - before the fingers close around the object. Their benefits are: 1) They are stable under noise in both joint and pose variation. 2) They are largely hand and object agnostic, enabling direct comparison across different hand morphologies. 3) Their format makes them suitable for direct application of machine learning techniques developed for images. We validate the representations by: 1) Demonstrating that they can accurately predict the distribution of ε-metric values generated by kinematic noise. I.e., they capture much of the information inherent in contact points and force vectors without the corresponding instabilities. 2) Training a binary grasp success classifier on a real-world data set consisting of 588 grasps.
  8. As robots become more ubiquitous it is important to understand how different groups of people respond to possible ways of interacting with the robot. In this study, we focused on gender differences while users were tele-operating a humanoid robot that was physically co-located with them. We investigated three factors during the human-robot interaction (1) information processing strategy (2) self-efficacy and (3) tinkering or exploratory behavior. Experimental result show that the information on how to use the robot was processed comprehensively by the female participants whereas males processed them selectively (pp<0.001) . Males were more confident when using the robot than females (pp=0.0002) . Males tinkered more with the robot than females (pp=0.0021) . Tinkering might have resulted in greater task success and lower task completion time for males. Similar to existing work on software interface usability, our results show the importance of accounting for gender differences when developing interfaces for interacting with robots.
  9. This paper presents an online data collection method that captures human intuition about what grasp types are preferred for different fundamental object shapes and sizes. Survey questions are based on an adopted taxonomy that combines grasp pre-shape, approach, wrist orientation, object shape, orientation and size which covers a large swathe of common grasps. For example, the survey identifies at what object height or width dimension (normalized by robot hand size) the human prefers to use a two finger precision grasp versus a three-finger power grasp. This information is represented as a confidence-interval based polytope in the object shape space. The result is a database that can be used to quickly find potential pre-grasps that are likely to work, given an estimate of the object shape and size.
  10. The Robotics Program at Oregon State University has been running an NSF-funded summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site since 2014. Over twenty students per year (on average) have participated in the site, spending ten weeks embedded in the OSU Robotics Program. Our main focus with this REU Site is to give the participants a com- plete research experience, from problem definition to the fi- nal presentation of results, “in miniature”. Our secondary ed- ucational objectives are: 1) Teach basic non-technical skills needed for graduate work, such as time management and lit- erature review, 2) Provide details on how to apply to gradu- ate school and for funding, 3) Clarify what we look for in a graduate student, and 4) Detail what to expect from the grad- uate student experience. In this paper, we describe the over- all structure of the participants’ summer experience, outline some of the training materials that we use, describe the moti- vations for our approach, and discuss the lessons that we have learned after running the program for a number of years.