Worker robots that can learn from humans

March 3, 2015

Illustration of human-aware motion planning. The left panel depicts a shared workspace in which a human and robot are placing and sealing screws, respectively. The right panel depicts both the standard, shortest-path motion (dashed arrow) and a human-aware motion (solid arrow) that the robot could take given the expected human workspace occupancy, represented by the cylinder. (credit: Lasota, P. A., and J. A. Shah/Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society)

Roboticist and aerospace engineer Julie Shah and her team at MIT are developing next-generation assembly line robots that are smarter and more adaptable than robots available on today’s assembly lines.

The team is designing the robots with artificial intelligence that enables them to learn from experience, so the robots will be more responsive to human behavior. The more robots can sense the humans around them and make adjustments, the safer and more effective the robots will be on the assembly line.

The research is supported by NSF award #1426799, National Robotics Initiative (NRI)/Collaborative Research: Models and Instruments for Integrating Effective Human-Robot Teams into Manufacturing.

NSF | MIT roboticists are developing smarter assembly-line robots