A good start into the year 2021!

You don’t believe? Okay, Santa Claus was made up. The rest is available in our VR Lab RoSi.

Thank you very much for the pleasant cooperation in the challenging year 2020. We wish you a successful start into the new year and look forward to vivid collaborations in 2021!

Classify MRI scenarios easily with the context-person-robot heuristic “KOPROH”.

In the accompanying research project ARAIG, we were confronted with the problem that although there are different types of encounters between humans and service robots, there is no universal tool for distinguishing between them. Together with the BAuA, we developed the context-person-robot heuristic, KOPROH for short, based on practical experience in R&D projects and the existing scientific corpus. With 16 graphical scales, KOPROH helps to provide clarity about the characteristics of an MRI scenario and to compare multiple MRI scenarios quickly and easily. This paper presents an example of the approach, outlines possible applications, and discusses its utility in occupational science.

Presentation at the World Usabillity Day on the MRI project Intendicate

Does a machine or an algorithm have an intention? In the classical sense probably not (yet). Nevertheless, humans tend to interpret artificial action as intentional action. One can try to remedy this effect – or use it purposefully. In this talk at Word Usability Day 2020, the Intendicate project will be used to illustrate how intentionality can be mastered and used to reduce uncertainty and build trust.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 779966

Are They Ready for Operation? How to Assess the Control Room System of a New NPP.

In Finland, the OL 3 nuclear power plant will be the first EPR (pressurized water reactor) in Europe that will go into operation soon. The characteristics of an EPR are a digital I&C system and a fully digital control system for the power plant. The EPR will be controlled entirely via screens instead of using control buttons on large consoles as in traditional control rooms. Before the final commissioning, an analysis should be carried out in order to determine whether the operating personnel is capable of controlling the power plant safely in all possible operating states under the given conditions.

In cooperation with MTO Safety GmbH, we have conducted an experimental investigation. In four scenarios, situation awareness, human error, communication, coordination and workload were recorded and evaluated with different shift teams. The methodical approach of the investigation is reported in the latest edition of “atw International Journal für Nuclear Power”.

Miller, R., Leitner, R., Gierig, S. & Kolrep, H. (2020). Are They Ready for Operation? How to Assess the Control Room System of a New NPP. atw International Journal of Nuclear Power (65, 498-503).

Attentive agents, baking buddies and helpers seeking help

Management report on the positive developments of assistance robotics in Germany

In the BMBF funding program “Autonomous robots for assistance functions: Interactive Basic Skills”, pioneering work for human-robot interaction has been done in the last 3 years. In eight multidisciplinary projects, the question was investigated whether and how humans and assistance robots can best get along – working, talking, exercising, eating, cooking or riding an elevator, for example. The exchange and cooperation between the projects was harmonized by the accompanying research program ARAIG led by HFC. The partners Fraunhofer IPA, the TU Berlin and the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health were involved in this program, the latter has now published the developments of the projects and the results of the accompanying research in an anthology. We wish you a lot of fun and enlightening moments while reading!

Study of the potential use of VR in human-robot interaction completed

Virtual Reality (VR) is increasingly used in research as an experimental environment. However, this raises the question of the generalizability of the results obtained with VR. Are the experience and behavior of participants in a VR environment similar to those under real conditions? Can we observe and measure valid results?

This question is addressed in a study by HFC within the research project “Autonomous robots for assistance functions: Interactive Basic Skills” (ARAIG). In the past weeks, 30 participants experienced a museum robot in an art gallery, either within a VR environment in 3D, as a screen simulation in 2D or in a physically real gallery. The successful completion of the study now enables a comparative evaluation of the subjective experience and objective behavior of the participants between the different experimental environments.

HFC would like to thank all participants.

New CONTENT4ALL questionnaire available!

New CONTENT4ALL questionnaire available! We have developed a new questionnaire to test how well an automated sign language translation works and how we can improve it. For this we have chosen a hopefully exciting way of presentation. The questionnaire is available in DGS/German.

Notice: The questionnaire was online until August 4, 2020 and is no longer available!

Thank you for your support!
Your CONTENT4ALL project team

Wizard-of-Oz user tests at the “Rehabilitation And Health Center Johannesbad Saarschleife”

A number of user tests were successfully conducted by project INTUITIV. Together with our partners from DFKI (German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence) HFC had the opportunity to test the robotic walker and the robotic arm in a real-world clinical setting and gather early data about their practical implementation and impact. Through these early prototype, “Wizard-of-Oz”-style experiments, in which robot functions and capabilities that are not yet implemented are simulated by an remote control operator invisible to the participants, we have gathered important data and further requirements of the respective stakeholders regarding the robotic platforms. Especially important for the purposes of the project was the fact that all participants were recruited from real patients at the clinic with varying degrees of mobility impairments, allowing for researching the behaviours and feelings of this vulnerable stakeholder group while in proximity to the autonomously navigating robotic plattforms.

The successful completion of our study enables Project INTUITIV to further inform and shape the design process for the robots and their behaviour towards more user-centered solutions suiting the  needs and preferences of those who will interact and coexist with the robots in the future.

HFC would like to thank the Rehabilitation And Health Center Johannesbad Saarschleife, and especially all of the helpful participants supporting our research, for their dedication and making the user tests possible.

Project for CADwalk Global completed: ESA control room workstation for satellite and rover control

In a trend-setting project, we designed new ergonomic workplace concepts for ESA satellite and rover control operations for CADwalk Global in the past months. This included a new type of workstation design that is suitable for an increasing number of satellite missions that are managed by a control room operator. In addition to workplace ergonomics, we also looked at new ways of setting up control rooms.

At the beginning of 2020, we carried out observations in two control rooms at ESA in Darmstadt and talked to the operators. This was followed by an intensive design phase in which we developed two alternative workplace design concepts. Subsequently, we conducted a focus group with ESA staff – which was then already digital due to corona conditions. After the vivid discussion, one of the concepts allowing more flexibility to support future workshops with end-users prevailed, which is now being implemented by CADwalk Global.

Award for interdisciplinary contribution to MRK safety

Eyes on robots is a controversial issue. While they can give the friendly tin buddy next door just the desired touch of human-likeness, in an industrial context one usually tries to avoid such associations. This makes the idea of equipping a classic industrial robot with a pair of these nevertheless all the more appealing. Not to make it more chummy, but to make its operation more natural and safer for humans. To do this, the eyes do not have to see, but to be seen: the robot’s eye movements should indicate in which direction its arm will move next. Since humans can recognize and interpret eye movements with little cognitive effort, we see this as an opportunity to open a communication channel between humans and robots that will increase safety. We recently received an award for this idea, and with it the funding for a nine-month research and development project in which we want to rethink interdisciplinarity: Together with the engineering psychology of the Humboldt University and the motion design experts from why do birds, a display is being developed that is safe and intuitive to understand, and looks great at the same time.