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Towards Seamless Human-Robot Handovers

Kyle Strabala, Min Kyung Lee, Anca Dragan, Jodi Forlizzi, Siddhartha Srinivasa, Maya Cakmak, and Vincenzo Micelli
Journal Article, Journal of Human-Robot Interaction: Special Issue on HRI System Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 112 - 132, February, 2013
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A handover is a complex collaboration, where actors coordinate in time and space to trans- fer control of an object. This coordination comprises two processes: the physical process of moving to get close enough to transfer the object, and the cognitive process of exchang- ing information to guide the transfer. Despite this complexity, we humans are capable of performing handovers seamlessly in a wide variety of situations, even when unexpected. This suggests a common procedure that guides all handover interactions. Our goal is to codify that procedure. To that end, we first study how people hand objects to each other in order to understand their coordination process and the signals and cues that they use and observe with their partners. Based on these studies, we propose a coordination structure for human-robot han- dovers that considers the physical and social-cognitive aspects of the interaction separately. This handover structure describes how people approach, reach out their hands, and trans- fer objects while simultaneously coordinating the what, when, and where of handovers: to agree that the handover will happen (and with what object), to establish the timing of the handover, and to decide the configuration at which the handover will occur. We experimen- tally evaluate human-robot handover behaviors that exploit this structure, and offer design implications for seamless human-robot handover interactions.

The work presented in this article was carried out as part of the research project Mul- tidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI), funded by the Office of Naval Re- search (ONR MURI N00014-09-1-1031). We gratefully acknowledge funding from the NSF Quality of Life Technologies ERC (NSF-EEC-0540865), and the Intel Embedded Computing ISTC. Maya Cakmak was partially supported by the Intel Summer Fellowship. Vincenzo Micelli was partially supported by research funds of the University of Parma, Italy.


author = {Kyle Strabala and Min Kyung Lee and Anca Dragan and Jodi Forlizzi and Siddhartha Srinivasa and Maya Cakmak and Vincenzo Micelli},
title = {Towards Seamless Human-Robot Handovers},
journal = {Journal of Human-Robot Interaction: Special Issue on HRI System Studies},
year = {2013},
month = {February},
volume = {2},
number = {1},
pages = {112 - 132},
keywords = {Physical human-robot interaction, handover, signaling, joint activity},