Watching humans hand over things, the skill seems trivial. But the smoothness and the ease of interaction is deceiving, as complex, fast and nonverbal communication takes place continuously to negotiate shared information. How robots can competently participate in this nonverbal negotiation "dance" is the subject of "Fluent and Intuitive Human–robot Object Handover", an invited talk by Raphael Deimel of the TU Wien. The talk is part of OFAI's 2022 Lecture Series.
Members of the public are cordially invited to attend the talk on Wednesday, 28 September 2022 at 18:30 CEST. Attendance is possible in person at OFAI Headquarters (Freyung 6/6/7, 1010 Vienna); note that it is recommended to wear an FFP2 mask while on the premises. Alternatively, you may attend online via Zoom:
Meeting ID: 842 8244 2460
Talk abstract: Watching humans hand over things, the skill seems trivial. But the smoothness and the ease of interaction is deceiving, as complex, fast and nonverbal communication takes place continuously to negotiate shared information such as exactly when and where to hand over the thing, which handover type to use, who initiates the interaction and who assumes the socially dominant role. All those aspects are influenced by subjective preferences, circumstances and cultural norms. If a robot wants to participate, it too has to perform this interactive, continuous and nonverbal negotiation "dance" competently. It needs to be able to propose courses of action, to acknowledge proposals by affirmative action, to signal the need for more negotiation, to recognize incompatible courses of action and to revert them. Discrete state machines are ill suited to handle the nuances, ambiguity and continuity inherent to communication via body motion, whereas continuous controllers fail to break the problem into easier substeps. Phase-State machines solve this dichotomy: they encode temporal progress, allow for ambiguity and support gradual decision making processes but they also encode arbitrary state graphs.
Speaker biography: Dr. Raphael Deimel was born 1980 in Vienna and works in the field of Soft Robotics, Autonomous Manipulation, and physical Human-Robot Interaction. Educated in control engineering, computer science, and cognitive sciences, he pioneered novel actuation and control concepts in autonomous and mobile manipulation for robots at the Robotics and Biology Lab of TU Berlin, culminating in the award-winning "RBO Soft Hand 2" which is a highly deformable hand made of silicone rubber and capable of most human grasps. He co-authored and participated the EU Horizon 2020 project "Soft Manipulation", investigating grasp strategies that exploit constraints to motion latent in the environment. From 2017 onward, Dr. Raphael Deimel led MTI-engAge, an interdisciplinary research group on human-robot interaction at TU Berlin, investigating the interdependent social, technical and behavioral challenges of handing over objects intuitively, fluently and quickly between humans and robots. Since 2020, his research at the ACIN institute of TU Vienna focuses on hybrid hard-soft robots, and how robot systems need to be structured to learn and enact fast and reliable manipulation skills.