Interviewer: What is your name, position/role and your institution?
Subham Agrawal: My name is Subham Agrawal and i am a research associate in the digitop project at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory which is part of the University of the West of England, Western
Interviewer: Can you provide a short overview of the research you have conducted?
Subham Agrawal: The major focus of research at the Visual Robotics Laboratory under the digitop project is to understand operator well-being while working with collaborative robots in a digital manufacturing scenario.
In order to understand operator well-being various factors such as mental demand, physical demand and situational awareness are studied through various experiments under different industrial cases.
We started off with specifying various personas within an industry. This allowed us to understand the tasks and challenges people at various levels of workforce face when working in digital manufacturing.
The next step was to understand both the positive and negative impacts of digital tools on the operators. In order to do so first it was necessary to have an accurate assessment of an operator's state.
We conducted a heuristic evaluation of commercially available sensor solutions which can be used for this task. Experts from the industry and academia with dozens of years of experience in heart rate variability, brain activity, thermal imaging and post tracking were part of this study to identify usable sensors for operator state assessment in manufacturing.
Following that we set up a scenario where an operator works on assembling a small electrical pot with the help of a collaborative robot. The robot does the majority of the assembly while the operator helps by securing the parts at the end to finalize the product.
A major concern during this task is to maintain speed with the robot since the parts can keep piling up as the robot finishes its assembly. If the human operator is not fast enough the pilot works the pilot work leads to both physical and mental demand on the operator.
The operators are needed to divide attention between finishing their tasks while also removing the finished assembly by the robot to make way for the next piece. If they don't do so then the robot may bump into it and the entire process needs to be reset leading to loss of time.
During the experiment a depth sensing camera is used to record the pose of the operator a heart rate sensor is used to record cardio activity and a muscle activation sensor is used to record the muscle activity of the operator. The data collected from the sensor helps understand the state of the operator and the level of demand they experience.
The main aim of the experiment is to understand the effect of collaborative robot a collaborative robot has on the x operator during such a shared task.
Interviewer: Can you explain what the outcomes of your research mean for users/industry?
Subham Agrawal: We want to determine the level of physical and mental demand such a collaboration puts on the operator. This will allow us to consider ways in which collaborative robots can be deployed in the industry while keeping user acceptance high.
The results from this experiment will also be insightful in the industry to better adjust the production line for increased productivity while keeping operator well-being in mind, thank you.