CoBot Studio VR: A Virtual Reality Game Environment for Transdisciplinary Research on Interpretability and Trust in Human-Robot Collaboration

Publication from Robotics

Martina Mara, Kathrin Meyer, Michael Heiml, Horst Pichler, Roland Haring, Brigitte Krenn, Stephanie Gross, Bernhard Reiterer, Thomas Layer-Wagner

VAM-HRI 2021, Boulder, Colorado USA , 2/2021


With the rise of collaborative robots (cobots) in industrial workplaces, designing these robots to meet the needs of their human co-workers is becoming increasingly important. Psychological theories and recent results from HRI research suggest interpretability and predictability of cobot behavior as key factors for the establishment of trust and collaborative task success. However, it is not yet clear which robotic intention signals are easily interpretable for whom and how they might impact user experience in varying situations. Therefore, the transdisciplinary team of the research project CoBot Studio created an innovative virtual reality (VR) environment in which the effectiveness of different light- and motion-based cobot signals can be systematically evaluated in various collaborative mini-games, without safety concerns, under randomized controlled conditions, and without the need to make actual hardware adjustments to a robot. This paper introduces functionalities and the system architecture of the highly versatile CoBot Studio research environment, presents an initial application, and discusses methodological benefits of using immersive VR games for research into human-robot collaboration.


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Keywords: Human-robot collaboration, industry, virtual reality,interpretability, intention signaling, trust, multimodalcommunication, digital twin