For Fong, collaboration should be seen as a spectrum from loosely coupled—even independent—coactivity to tightly coupled interaction. He suggested that a team can be productive as long as it coordinates what it does. Organization, which he defines here as the allocation of tasks, is central to successful coordination.

According to Rong Xiong, evaluation is an integral component of collaboration. Robots need a basis for self-evaluation that is derived from shared information. Similarly, when a human needs help, he needs to know what the robot can do and how to ask for it.


Goodrich would like to see collaboration research over the next ten years take place in the central area of overlapping circles (hatch marks) of the Venn diagram (shown left). Multiple human-robot teams have disparate or asymmetric goals, information, and abilities. Understanding collaboration will involve accounting for and aligning these asymmetries. Goodrich’s understanding of collaboration is relevant to comments made by Jeff Bradshaw during the previous breakout session, in which he described seven myths related to autonomous systems. Taken together, these myths suggest that autonomy is more multidimensional, complex, and collaborative than is often viewed in the literature.

Manuela Veloso suggested that the robot’s planning algorithms—such as Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes (POMDP), which enable robots to plan paths under partially observable conditions—would benefit from including models of the human that the robot may encounter in its environment. This will help the robot infer human intentions. In contrast to Goodrich’s approach to collaboration, Veloso questioned whether complexity is really necessary for collaboration. Does the robot need to know why the human needs it to do a particular task, such as “go to the door”? In her view, it would be a great contribution just to be able to coordinate on minimal knowledge of intentions or needs.

Tom Wagner defined coordination as the process of managing interdependencies between tasks or plans and suggested taking Veloso’s POMDP approach to the next step: to make an explicit representation of interdependence that would enable a robot to divert a human’s attention to help it. For example, a

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