Robots are fundamentally designed to change the day to day lives of people. Their functions are configured to range from completing tasks more efficient to being right along side soldiers on the battlefield. The main component that will allow for the future development and implementation of robots into our society is HRI (Human-Robot Interaction). Being able to interact with these robots will change the way of effectively communicating through technology.
There is cause for concern amongst humans regarding the quality of social interactions with robots. There are uncertainties that HRI could either not compare to human-human interactions as well as the autonomy of these robots will make them almost indistinguishable amongst humans. (Westworld anyone?). Initial communications with robots through strategic messaging suggests that humans are open to learning about newer robots and how to effectively communicate with them. However, one of the crucial factors that makes HRI successful is the element of HRT (Human-Robot Trust). Robots are susceptible to technical errors that can be fixed, which calls for an even higher need for trust in communication.
The purpose for even being able to communicate with robots is for them to perform tasks and relay messages that are specified towards the user. A study done by Yuhua Liang and Seoungcheol Austin Lee, at Chapman University looks into how HRT is affected by user generated content and vice versa. Their measured variable is the user's feelings towards HRT and HRI using an autonomous robot CASEY. Liang and Lee tested CASEY's interactional outcomes based on what the strategic messages the user provided from two different angles. The results of user generated content on HRT and HRI displayed a positive correlation leaving users both excited and interested. However, the strategic messaging that is utilized for communication still takes some time as robots are not fully adaptable to assess some tasks right away. Conversely, robot generated content, which has HRI acting on the user, shows a much more positive correlation as the robot is the source of it's own strategic messages.
Trust between the robots and humans is an integral part for our society to move further in technological advancements. By having cohesive HRT and HRI, robots then can revolutionize new areas of practice especially in medical field, ranging from surgery to rehabilitation.
The Future of Medical Surgery Lies With The Flexibility and Sensitivity of Robots
Surgical robot systems are slowly being implemented to help improve the efficiency and accuracy of procedures. Minimally invasive surgeries are now being done through the use of robots to effectively help guide doctors around narrow, and hard to reach organs in the body to perform challenging procedures.
Robots usually have the issue of being rigid structures, however, the European project STIFF-FLOP, is being developed in order to make robotic surgical arms more flexible and sensitive comparable to that of a human. These robots are developed to mimic techniques at a higher level of imitation. The programming of the robot is critically important in order for it to be as precise and have close to zero percent error during the procedures. If an incision or puncture is off by 1mm, an artery or organ could be damaged that could result in serious consequences.
Force control is dependent on sensitivity and flexibility to allow these surgical robots to come in contact with human tissue. This understanding of force control has been implemented through human-robots interactions that allow surgeons to control the surgical arm, STIFF-FLOP, with hand gestures and a haptic foot pedal. These experimental procedures have shown significantly promising results as user reaction times have been reduced in response to critical warning signs that go off.
A University of Maryland senior comments on the how HRI can aid the advancements of medicine.
Physical Coupling between Humans and Robots Make Rehabilitation for Patients Much More Efficient Through A Virtual Reality System
Robotic device assistance is highly accepted and encouraged by those who are in physical rehabilitation. Through integrating cognitive functions, such as motor and sensorimotor abilities, the future of these robotic devices for rehabilitation will be able to take the user's intent and thoughts to create prolonged exercises for patients. These systems are able to automatically update to the patient's needs by adapting to the individual injury. The virtual reality aspect of using robots for rehabilitation therapy allows for the system to dynamically adapt to the individual patient's needs and tailor specific therapeutic workouts in a real time display.
There is an algorithm that allows for these robotic systems to map out the human body segments and design to make simulations and exercises more personable to the human patient. The advancements made in order to correctly simulate a person walking and doing daily activities is astonishing as the system is able to measure joint angles with an accuracy below 5 degrees.
Study Tests Robots Facilitating in the Development and Rehabilitation of the Brain
The therapeutic system goes beyond just physical rehabilitation by also working on neurologically damaged patients. One study was designed to test 20 healthy subjects on their lateral movements and retention based on force. The experiment was set up for the subjects to move a cursor from point A to point B in four different movements: baseline, adaptation (right with spring force), adaptation (right without spring force), and washout. The baseline and washout paths were both straight lines that required the subjects to guide the handle from point A to point B with force. The adaptations to the right with the virtual spring force showed a remarkably stronger error percentage compared to the adaptation without the spring force. The study examined the cursor's path and recorded the error of these paths.
SC and CC stand for Stiff Channel and Compliant Channel, which deal with the cursor path. VV and VS stand for Virtual Viscosity and Virtual Spring, which refer to the spring force applied on the cursor.