The Austria-wide CoBot Studio research project conducted by the LIT Robopsychology Lab at Johannes Kepler University Linz with six project partners, including the Ars Electronica Futurelab, has set itself the task of exploring the prerequisites for successful communication and safe collaboration between humans and robots. After all, many areas of the working world – from production to care – will undergo major changes in the foreseeable future as a result of automation and robotics.
In order to explore communication strategies and trust-building from humans to robots, several new aspects were combined in CoBot Studio, as Martina Mara from the LIT Robopsychology Lab explains in the video: The final test in 2022 was conducted in a mixed reality simulation environment in Deep Space 8K at the Ars Electronica Center. There, the study participants were tasked with performing various assignments together with a real robot in an immersive, playful virtual reality test environment.
The Ars Electronica Futurelab’s role was not only to provide the necessary hardware and software in Deep Space 8K – developed and continuously updated by the lab – but also to collect, store and output the data. “The challenge for us is how to bring virtual and real worlds together so that you can actually act together with a real robot in a virtual world,” explains Roland Haring, Technical Director of Futurelab. “And that implies a lot of technological questions on the one hand, but also questions about what the interaction design can look like and how you then design such worlds.”
The results of CoBot Studio, which was completed at the end of 2022, will soon be summarized in a research report by the LIT Robopsychology Lab. They should help to support collaboration between humans and robots. After all, experts like Bernhard Reiterer from Johanneum Research are convinced that the world of work will change fundamentally where robots come into play, “because it is simply unstoppable internationally. I believe that we can help to create or maintain an advantage, so that the alternative does not have to be the automatic migration of locations or full automation, but that we can find a middle ground with collaboration, so that we can keep workers in the country with partial automation of companies.”