Physical Human Robot Interaction

Physical human robot interaction is inherent in most medical applications. Such interactions require appropriate perception, sensing and action. Sensing the human could use conventional robot sensors or implantable/biocompatible sensors such as brain machine interfaces. Such sensor data must be combined with modeling to enable perception. Simulation and/or modeling of human form and function are the basis for the design the robot that comes into physical contact with humans. Much work needs to be done in this area, since we do not understand fully what model of humans are useful for optimizing robot perception, design, control and planning.

An important aspect of the physical contact between robots and humans is the technology of touch (haptics). When clinicians or patients use robot to interact with environment that are remote in distance or scale, the operator needs to have a natural interface that make the robot seem transparent. The operator of the surgical robot, prosthesis, or rehabilitation robot should feel as if he or she is manipulating directly a real environment rather than interacting with a robot. Haptic, force and tactile, displays give feedback to the user that is akin to what he or she feels in the real world. This haptic feedback can improve performance in terms of efficiency, accuracy and comfort.

Effective social interaction with a user is critically important for enabling health and medical robotics to become useful for improving health outcomes in convalescence, wellness and rehabilitation applications. The user’s willingness to engage with a socially assistive robot in order to accept interact, advise, and ultimately alter behavior practices toward the desired improvements, rests directly on the robot ability to obtain the user’s trust and sustain the user’s interest. Finally, user’s interface and input devices must be developed that are easy and intuitive for a range of users, including those with special needs.

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