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Effects of movement speed and predictability in human–robot collaboration

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Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing & Service Industries

Published online on


Human–robot collaboration (HRC) is characterized by a spatiotemporal overlap between the workspaces of the human and the robot and has become a viable option in manufacturing and other industries. However, for companies considering employing HRC it remains unclear how best to configure such a setup, because empirical evidence on human factors requirements remains inconclusive. As robots execute movements at high levels of automation, they adapt their speed and movement path to situational demands. This study therefore experimentally investigated the effects of movement speed and path predictability of an industrial collaborating robot on the human operator. Participants completed tasks together with a robot in an industrial workplace simulated in virtual reality. A lower level of predictability was associated with a loss in task performance, while faster movements resulted in higher‐rated values for task load and anxiety, indicating demands on the operator exceeding the optimum. Implications for productivity and safety and possible advancements in HRC workplaces are discussed.