Human Robot Collaboration for Enhancing Work Activities

Liu, L., A. Schoen, C. Henrichs, J. Li, B. Mutlu, and R. Radwin. Human Robot Collaboration for Enhancing Work Activities. Human Factors, 2022.


ObjectiveTrade-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.BackgroundAs 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.MethodsA 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.ResultsHuman 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.ConclusionsThe 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.

DOI: 10.1177/00187208221077722


  title={Human Robot Collaboration for Enhancing Work Activities},
  author={Liu, Li and Schoen, Andrew J and Henrichs, Curt and Li, Jingshan and Mutlu, Bilge and Zhang, Yajun and Radwin, Robert G},
  journal={Human Factors},
  publisher={SAGE Publications Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA}