Service robots are mobile, embodied artefacts that operate in co presence with their users. This is a challenge for human-robot interaction (HRI) design. The robot’s interfaces must support users in understanding the system’s current state and possible next actions. One aspect in the design for such interaction is to understand users’ preferences and expectations by involving them in the design process. This thesis takes a user-centered design (UCD) perspective and tries to understand the different user roles that exist in service robotics in order to consider possible design implications. Another important aim in the thesis is to understand the spatial management that occurs in face-to-face encounters between humans and robotic systems.
The Cero robot is an office “fetch-and-carry” robot that supports a user in the transportation of light objects in an office environment. The iterative, user-centered design of the graphical-user interface (GUI) for the Cero robot is presented in Paper I. It is based upon the findings from multiple prototype design- and evaluation iterations. The GUI is one of the robot’s interfacing components, i.e., it is to be seen in the overall interplay of the robot’s physical design and other interface modalities developed in parallel with the GUI. As interaction strategy for the GUI, a graphical representation based upon simplification of the graphical elements as well as hiding the robot system’s complexity in sensing and mission execution is recommended.
The usage of the Cero robot by a motion-impaired user over a period of three months is presented in Paper II. This longitudinal user study aims to gain insights into the daily usage of such an assistive robot. This approach is complementary to the described GUI design and development process as it allows empirically investigating situated use of the Cero robot as novel service application over a longer period of time with the provided interfaces. Findings from this trial show that the robot and its interfaces provide a benefit to the user in the transport of light objects, but also implies increased independence. The long-term study also reveals further aspects of the Cero robot system usage as part of a workplace setting, including the social context that such a mobile, embodied system needs to be designed for.
During the long-term user study, bystanders in the operation area of the Cero robot were observed in their attempt to interact with it. To understand better how such bystander users may shape the interaction with a service robot system, an experimental study investigates this special type and role of robot users in Paper III. A scenario in which the Cero robot addresses and asks invited trial subjects for a cup of coffee is described. The findings show that the level of occupation significantly influences bystander users’ willingness to assist the Cero robot with its request.
The joint handling of space is an important part of HRI, as both users and service robots are mobile and often co-present during interaction. To inform the development of future robot locomotion behaviors and interaction design strategies, a Wizard-of Oz (WOZ) study is presented in Paper IV that explores the role of posture and positioning in HRI. The interpersonal distances and spatial formations that were observed during this trial are quantified and analyzed in a joint interaction task between a robot and its users in Paper V. Findings show that a face-to-face spatial formation and a distance between ~46 to ~122 cm is dominant while initiating a robot mission or instructing it about an object or place.
Paper VI investigates another aspect on the role of spatial management in the joint task between a robot and its user based upon the study described in Papers IV and V. Taking the dynamics of interaction into account, the findings are that users structure their activities with the robot and that this organizing is observable as small movements in interaction. These small adaptations in posture and orientation signify the transition between different episodes of interaction and prepare for the next interaction exchange in the shared space. The understanding of these spatial management behaviors allow designing human-robot interaction based upon such awareness and active handling of space as a structuring interaction element.
Stockholm: KTH , 2006.
Severinson Eklundh, KerstinChristensen, Henrik I.