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  1. Authored robotics applications have a diverse set of requirements for their authoring interfaces, being dependent on the underlying architecture of the program, the capabilities of the programmers and engineers using them, and the capabilities of the robot. Visual programming approaches have long been favored for both novice-level accessibility and clear graphical representations, but current tools are limited in their customizability and ability to be integrated holistically into larger design interfaces. OpenVP attempts to address this by providing a highly configurable and customizable component library that can be integrated easily into other modern web-based applications. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 11, 2025
  2. Robots are ubiquitous in small-to-large-scale manufacturers. While collaborative robots (cobots) have significant potential in these settings due to their flexibility and ease of use, proper integration is critical to realize their full potential. Specifically, cobots need to be integrated in ways that utilize their strengths, improve manufacturing performance, and facilitate use in concert with human workers. Efective integration requires careful consideration and the knowledge of roboticists, manufacturing engineers, and business administrators. We propose an approach involving the stages of planning, analysis, development, and presentation, to inform manufacturers about cobot integration within their facilities prior to the integration process. We contextualize our approach in a case study with an SME collaborator and discuss insights learned. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 11, 2025
  3. We argue for the use of Petri nets as a modeling language for the iterative development process of interactive robotic systems. Petri nets, particularly Timed Colored Petri nets (TCPNs), have the potential to unify various phases of the development process-design, specification, simulation, validation, implementation, and deployment. We additionally discuss future directions for creating a domain-specific variant of TCPNs tailored specifically for HRI systems development. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 22, 2025
  4. Robots designed to interact with people in collaborative or social scenarios must move in ways that are consistent with the robot's task and communication goals. However, combining these goals in a naïve manner can result in mutually exclusive solutions, or infeasible or problematic states and actions. In this paper, we present Lively, a framework which supports configurable, real-time, task-based and communicative or socially-expressive motion for collaborative and social robotics across multiple levels of programmatic accessibility. Lively supports a wide range of control methods (i.e. position, orientation, and joint-space goals), and balances them with complex procedural behaviors for natural, lifelike motion that are effective in collaborative and social contexts. We discuss the design of three levels of programmatic accessibility of Lively, including a graphical user interface for visual design called LivelyStudio, the core library Lively for full access to its capabilities for developers, and an extensible architecture for greater customizability and capability. 
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  5. The introduction of collaborative robots (cobots) into the workplace has presented both opportunities and challenges for those seeking to utilize their functionality. Prior research has shown that despite the capabilities afforded by cobots, there is a disconnect between those capabilities and the applications that they currently are deployed in, partially due to a lack of effective cobot-focused instruction in the field. Experts who work successfully within this collaborative domain could offer insight into the considerations and process they use to more effectively capture this cobot capability. Using an analysis of expert insights in the collaborative interaction design space, we developed a set of Expert Frames based on these insights and integrated these Expert Frames into a new training and programming system that can be used to teach novice operators to think, program, and troubleshoot in ways that experts do. We present our system and case studies that demonstrate how Expert Frames provide novice users with the ability to analyze and learn from complex cobot application scenarios. 
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  6. Collaborative robots promise to transform work across many industries and promote “human-robot teaming” as a novel paradigm. However, realizing this promise requires the understanding of how existing tasks, developed for and performed by humans, can be effectively translated into tasks that robots can singularly or human-robot teams can collaboratively perform. In the interest of developing tools that facilitate this process we present Authr, an end-to-end task authoring environment that assists engineers at manufacturing facilities in translating existing manual tasks into plans applicable for human-robot teams and simulates these plans as they would be performed by the human and robot. We evaluated Authr with two user studies, which demonstrate the usability and effectiveness of Authr as an interface and the benefits of assistive task allocation methods for designing complex tasks for human-robot teams. We discuss the implications of these findings for the design of software tools for authoring human-robot collaborative plans. 
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  7. Objective

    Trade-offs between productivity, physical workload (PWL), and mental workload (MWL) were studied when integrating collaborative robots (cobots) into existing manual work by optimizing the allocation of tasks.

    Background

    As cobots become more widely introduced in the workplace and their capabilities greatly improved, there is a need to consider how they can best help their human partners.

    Methods

    A theoretical data-driven analysis was conducted using the O*NET Content Model to evaluate 16 selected jobs for associated work context, skills, and constraints. Associated work activities were ranked by potential for substitution by a cobot. PWL and MWL were estimated using variables from the O*Net database that represent variables for the Strain Index and NASA-TLX. An algorithm was developed to optimize work activity assignment to cobots and human workers according to their most suited abilities.

    Results

    Human workload for some jobs decreased while workload for some jobs increased after cobots were reassigned tasks, and residual human capacity was used to perform job activities designated the most important to increase productivity. The human workload for other jobs remained unchanged.

    Conclusions

    The changes in human workload from the introduction of cobots may not always be beneficial for the human worker unless trade-offs are considered. Application: The framework of this study may be applied to existing jobs to identify the relationship between productivity and worker tolerances that integrate cobots into specific tasks.

     
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  8. Abstract

    Reduced hippocampal volume is frequently observed in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but the psychological processes associated with these alterations remain unclear. Given hippocampal involvement in memory and contextual representations of threat, we investigated relationships between retrospectively reported combat exposure, perceived threat, and hippocampal volume in trauma-exposed veterans. T1-weighted anatomical MRI scans were obtained from 56 veterans (4 women, 52 men; 39 with elevated PTSD symptoms, “PTSS” group) and hippocampal volume was estimated using automatic segmentation tools in FreeSurfer. Hippocampal volume was regressed on self-reported perceived threat from the Deployment Risk and Resilience Inventory, and combat exposure from the Combat Exposure Scale. As a secondary analysis, hippocampal volume was regressed on Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) symptoms. In veterans with elevated PTSD symptoms, hippocampal volume was inversely related to perceived threat while deployed while controlling for self-reported combat exposure. Hippocampal volume was also inversely correlated with avoidance/numbing CAPS symptoms. Future research should clarify the temporal milieu of these effects and investigate whether individual differences in hippocampal structure and function contribute to heightened threat appraisal at the time of trauma vs. subsequently elevated appraisals of traumatic events.

     
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