Motion Planning and Coordination, Interactive Task Planning
The collaboration between a human being and a machine that can independently move
and act represents a form of interaction that is based not only on communication and
exchange of information, but also involves motion and action. These motions and
actions of the two agents, human and machine, must be planned, coordinated, and, if
need be, adapted reciprocally. We distinguish between three types of motion planning
and coordination: motion which involves direct physical contact between human and
machine, motion without direct contact, and finally, coordinated planning and
execution of action sequences involving motion and manipulation.
In MORPHA we cover the following research issues:
For motion planning with direct physical contact:
design of direct physical interaction and cooperation methods between humans
and machines based on vision, range and force/torque sensors
anthropormorphic grasping and manipulation.
For motion planning without direct physical contact:
motion coordination between human and machine (development of
context-dependent motion patterns, including behaviors such as approach,
safe locomotion in rapidly changing environments (e.g. among groups of
For interactive task planning:
interactive behavior planning with user behavior feedback
task description language for interaction and human-machine cooperation.
Direct physical contact represents the most critical form of interaction between human
and machine. Movements of the machine that take place in the direct vicinity of a
person must be "soft" and "compliant", and not surpass the counterforce of the
person. The robot assistant must, for example, be "repellable" in the case of an
impending contact that is not desired by the person. Intuitive and simple teaching and
programming of the robot requires that the motion sequences related to grasping and
manipulation be as anthropomorphic as possible.
Motions that involve no direct physical contact must also be coordinated and
synchronized. This coordination can take on different forms depending on the context.
While coordination in some situations means avoiding another agent, in other contexts
it may mean that the robot should approach the person or even follow him or her. In
extreme cases, the robot may have to coordinate its motion with several or even many
people (groups). This requires real-time perception, reasoning, and planning
The interactive task planning and execution of actions is one of the most complex form
of physical cooperation between human and machine. Both agents must be able to
draw conclusions about the other agent's plans and intentions using their own
perception, and must make their own actions transparent using either explanations or