Modeling Robot “Psycho-Physical” State and Reactions – A New Option in Human–Robot Communication Part 1: Concept and Background

Research paper by Veljko Potkonjak, Jelena Radojicic, Spyros Tzafestas

Indexed on: 01 Dec '02Published on: 01 Dec '02Published in: Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems


Man–machine communication had been recognized a long time ago as a significant issue in the implementation of automation. It influences the machine effectiveness through direct costs for operator training and through more or less comfortable working conditions. The solution for the increased effectiveness might be found in user-friendly human–machine interface. In robotics, the question of communication and its user-friendliness is becoming even more significant. It is no longer satisfactory that a communication can be called “human–machine interface”, since one must see robots as future collaborators, service workers, and probably personal helpers. So, a new way of communication is needed. This paper starts from the fact that a variety of unconventional ways of communication is being explored: speech communication, handwriting, and facial mimicry. Speech recognition and generation, apart from its potentially strong impact to human–robot interface, is out of the scope of this study, and the same holds for handwriting. The facial mimicry and the wider field of robot emotion lead to a new way of communication that can be called “gestural language”. We may say that our research matches such a wide notion. However, there is an important specificity of our approach. Previous works in this field looked at facial and gestural expressions of emotions and messages as actually voluntary activities. They were induced by some situations, but such situations had to be recognized after which the appropriate preprogrammed reaction followed. Thus, some expert system or other artificial intelligence system were applied. The current study explores the conditional reactions that are “chemically based”. Human psycho-physical states like fear, stress and especially fatigue follow from complex chemical processes. Such states cannot be voluntarily controlled. They are not expressed through some specific mimicry or body movement, but they influence all movements. Any motion intended to accomplish some task will be changed, thus sending a message to the neighborhood. This change can be observed, and so the message is received. For processes of this kind and their resembling, we prefer using the term modeling psycho-physical states. Among various states interesting for application in robots, the present study concentrates on fatigue, which is a good example for the initial research. The first part of the paper explains the concept and the background, while the second part provides numerical justification.