Making Robots Better Team Players

Humans are intelligent, yet unpredictable. Robots are programmed to be predictably logical. Can they get along? These days they don’t have much of a choice, as robots increasingly perform human tasks and work with human teams. As reported in SmartPlanet, researchers at MIT are examining ways to establish trustworthy and efficient relationships between humans and robots, using a cross training approach to team building. Their research shows that teams in which a robot and its human partner swap roles on different days become more efficient.

Says Julie Shah, head of the Interactive Robotics Group at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory: “The person is better able to adapt to the robot’s capabilities and learn what it is likely to do, and so we think that it is adaptation on the person’s side that results in a better team performance.” Next month’s International Conference of Human-Robot Interaction in Tokyo, where the MIT team will present its paper, will offer further insights into how we can improve our working relationship with the robot in the next cubicle.

This past November, Rodney Brooks, founder of Rethink Robotics, joined MIT’s Andrew McAfee at Techonomy 2012 to discuss the emerging role of robots in the global economy. You can watch video of the session here.

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