In the industry of the future, so as in healthcare and at home, robots will be a familiar presence. Since they will be working closely with human operators not always properly trained for human-machine interaction tasks, robots will need the ability of automatically adapting to changes in the task to be performed or to cope with variations in how the human partner completes the task. The goal of this work is to make a further step toward endowing robot with such capability. To this purpose, we focus on the identification of relevant time instants in an observed action, called dynamic instants, informative on the partner’s movement timing, and marking instants where an action starts or ends, or changes to another actions. The time instants are temporal locations where the motion can be ideally segmented, providing a set of primitives that can be used to build a temporal signature of the action and finally support the understanding of the dynamics and coordination in time. We validate our approach in two contexts, considering first a situation in which the human partner can perform multiple different activities, and then moving to settings where an action is already recognized and shows a certain degree of periodicity. In the two contexts we address different challenges. In the first one, working in batch on a dataset collecting videos of a variety of cooking activities, we investigate whether the action signature we compute could facilitate the understanding of which type of action is occurring in front of the observer, with tolerance to viewpoint changes. In the second context, we evaluate online on the robot iCub the capability of the action signature in providing hints to establish an actual temporal coordination during the interaction with human participants. In both cases, we show promising results that speak in favour of the potentiality of our approach.
Rea, F., Vignolo, A., Sciutti, A., & Noceti, N. (2019). Human Motion Understanding for Selecting Action Timing in Collaborative Human-Robot Interaction. Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 6. https://doi.org/10.3389/frobt.2019.00058