Robotics and Autonomous Systems Center

Action Fluency and Timing in Human-Robot Collaboration

Prof. Guy Hoffman



For personal robots to play a long-term engaging role in untrained humans' lives, they need to display the kind of efficient and satisfying performance that humans are accustomed to from each other. We propose a notion of human-robot fluency, in particular as it relates to meshed action timing and motion path quality. To this end we explore computational perception and cognition architectures, as well as experimental studies of user's responses to timing of nonverbal acts. In a collaborative construction task, we find participants to prefer anticipatory action, even at the cost of errors and without increase in task efficiency. In another study we show priming through embodied perceptual simulation to have significant effects on both the efficiency of a human-robot team, and on humans' perception of the robot's intelligence, fluency, and gender. In the field of entertainment robotics, we present a robotic theater control system using insights from acting theory, which enables robotic nonverbal behavior that is both reactive and expressive. We then discuss an interactive robotic Jazz improvisation system that uses embodied gestures for musical expression, enabling simultaneous, yet responsive, joint improvisation. Finally, we present the design of a new smartphone-based media companion robot. Human-subject studies show effects on music enjoyment and social presence when the robot responds to music that participants listen to, but no apparent sensitivity to the beat-alignment of the robot's motion.



Guy Hoffman is Assistant Professor at the School of Communication of IDC Herzliya, and co-director of the IDC Media Innovation Lab. Before, he was a research fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology and at MIT. Hoffman holds a Ph.D from MIT in the field of human-robot interaction, and an M.Sc. in Computer Science from Tel Aviv University. His research investigates timing, practice, and joint activities between humans and robots, with the aim of designing personal robots that display more fluent behavior with their human counterparts. Other research interests include theater and musical performance robots as well as non-anthropomorphic robot design. His robot AUR won the IEEE International Robot Design Competition; he was animation and software lead on the World Expo Digital Water Pavilion, one of TIME magazine's "Best Inventions of the Year"; he was selected as one of five "scientists under 40 to watch" by TheMarker magazine; and his research and design work has been awarded numerous awards, as well as covered in the international press, including CNN, The New York Times, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Science, BBC, New Scientist, and Comedy Central.


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