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  1. 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
  2. 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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  3. null (Ed.)
    As collaborative robots become increasingly widespread in manufacturing settings, there is a greater need for tools and interfaces to support operators who integrate, supervise, and troubleshoot these systems. In this paper, we present an application of the Robot Attention Demand (RAD) metric for use in the design of user interfaces to support operators in collaborative manufacturing scenarios. Building on prior work that introduced RAD, we designed and implemented prototype timeline and countdown-timer interfaces to be used within a collaborative assembly-inspection task where an operator is also responsible for a separate sorting task. We performed a user evaluation to investigate the effects of displaying predictive RAD information on operator performance and perceptions of the task. Our results show lower perceived task load and increased usability scores compared to baseline condition without an interface. These findings suggest that predictive RAD should be used by designers and engineers developing operator interfaces for collaborative robot applications in manufacturing. 
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  4. Ruis, Andrew R. ; Lee, Seung B. (Ed.)
    Rapid advances in technology also come with increased training needs for people who engineer and interact with these technologies. One such technology is collaborative robots, cobots, which are designed to be safer and easier to use than their traditional robotic counterparts. However, there have been few studies of how people use cobots and even fewer identifying what a user must know to properly set up and effectively use cobots for their manufacturing processes. In this study, we interviewed nine experts in robots and automation in manufacturing settings. We employ a quantitative ethnographic approach to gain qualitative insights into the cultural practices of robotics experts and corroborate these stories with quantitative warrants. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses revealed that experts put safety first when designing and monitoring cobot applications. This study improves our understanding of expert problem-solving in collaborative robotics, defines an expert model that can serve as a basis for the development of an authentic learning technology, and illustrates a useful method for modeling expertise in vocational settings. 
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  5. Human-robot teaming is becoming increasingly common within manufacturing processes. A key aspect practitioners need to decide on when developing effective processes is the level of task interdependence between human and robot team members. Task interdependence refers to the extent to which one’s behavior affects the performance of others in a team. In this work, we examine the effects of three levels of task interdependence—pooled, sequential, reciprocalin human-robot teaming on human worker’s mental states, task performance, and perceptions of the robot. Participants worked with the robot in an assembly task while their heart rate variability was being recorded. Results suggested human workers in the reciprocal interdependence level experienced less stress and perceived the robot more as a collaborator than other two levels. Task interdependence did not affect perceived safety. Our findings highlight the importance of considering task structure in human-robot teaming and inform future research on and industry practices for human-robot task allocation. 
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  6. Collaborative robots, or cobots, represent a breakthrough technology designed for high-level (e.g., collaborative) interactions between workers and robots with capabilities for flexible deployment in industries such as manufacturing. Understanding how workers and companies use and integrate cobots is important to inform the future design of cobot systems and educational technologies that facilitate effective worker-cobot interaction. Yet, little is known about typical training for collaboration and the application of cobots in manufacturing. To close this gap, we interviewed nine experts in manufacturing about their experience with cobots. Our thematic analysis revealed that, contrary to the envisioned use, experts described most cobot applications as only low-level (e.g., pressing start/stop buttons) interactions with little flexible deployment, and experts felt traditional robotics skills were needed for collaborative and flexible interaction with cobots. We conclude with design recommendations for improved future robots, including programming and interface designs, and educational technologies to support collaborative use. 
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