Research Topic

Contact-Based Seamless Interactions Between Humans, Humanoids, and Other Robots

About this Research Topic

A number of interactions between humans involve direct or indirect contacts: social and affective interaction, physical assistance, collaborative manipulation, and communication of intention and emotion. This modality allows more intuitive and seamless interactions because it does not require each party’s ...

A number of interactions between humans involve direct or indirect contacts: social and affective interaction, physical assistance, collaborative manipulation, and communication of intention and emotion. This modality allows more intuitive and seamless interactions because it does not require each party’s intention to be explicitly expressed verbally. In order to realize such interactions between a human and robot, however, we have to solve a wide range of technical as well as psychological issues due to the limited sensing, control and inference capabilities of current robotic systems.

Some of the problems this Research Topic aims to tackle include:

How to realize seamless and intuitive interaction through tactile sensing?

Recent advances in tactile sensors have allowed robots to sense contact forces applied over the whole body. While this information can be used for seamless and intuitive nonverbal interactions, many challenges such as high dimensionality and sparsity of the information remain.

How to realize realistic force sensation with humans in the loop?

Contact force control is challenging not only because a human, which moves on their own will, is involved, but also because the resulting force should not feel “mechanical.” In addition to control, robot design including surface material also affects the human sensation of contact forces.

How to ensure safety, and gain trust and acceptance?

Robots that come into direct contact have the inherent issue of safety, which can affect the general public’s trust and acceptance toward those robots. Social acceptance of contact-based interactions also varies among cultures.

How to design and conduct user studies for evaluation and validation?

Conducting user studies of contact-based interactions is challenging even in normal times due to hardware requirements and safety concerns. The pandemic has made them even more difficult because in-person study is critical in physical interactions.

This Research Topic invites both theoretical and experimental contributions in areas related to physical human-robot interaction (pHRI) using direct or indirect contacts, including, but not limited to:

• Social and affective interactions involving contacts
• Physical and emotional assistance involving contacts
• Communication of intention and emotion between human and robot using contacts
• Human-in-the-loop contact planning, sensing, and control for pHRI
• Contact taxonomies, corpus, and vocabulary for pHRI
• Safety, trust, and acceptance of contact-based pHRI
• Human study design, execution, and analysis of contact-based pHRI
• Psychological effects of contact-based pHRI


Keywords: Physical human-robot interaction (pHRI), haptic interaction, human-robot communication, physical contact


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

22 August 2021 Manuscript
23 September 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

22 August 2021 Manuscript
23 September 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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