an astronaut’s line of sight, model the environment and show changes or abnormalities over time, confirm that procedural models are being followed, and provide timing alerts that anticipate what is needed next.

Fong added that the PSA would have a model of the particular human it is assigned to and would be tasked to learn the preferences and work-related idiosyncrasies (e.g., left-handedness) of “its” astronaut. The PSA would also have to “know” and compensate should its astronaut becomes less alert over time. The PSA would also have to be sufficiently resilient to adapt to a revised plan if its astronaut changes the sequence of a task for good reason. To achieve this, humans and their PSAs would undertake joint training prior to their mission.

The advantage of having such an assistant is that PSAs do not criticize or take offense. The disadvantages follow from the advantages: robots are incapable of exhibiting human behavior and the “uncanny valley” problem is likely to arise. The group speculated that accomplishing fixed tasks and mobility were achievable within two years. The PSA’s ability to change its models of the environment, task at hand, and so on and to observe and engage in unanticipated tasks could exist by years three to five.

Participants were asked prior to the meeting to give examples of successful Intelligent human-machine collaboration that are currently in use. The most popular responses were:

  • Robotic surgery
  • Google Search/search engines
  • Siri
  • Production systems where humans and robots work together (e.g., Kiva Warehouse Robotics)
  • Flight management and navigation systems on commercial aircraft
  • Intelligent vehicles (e.g., Google’s unmanned vehicle)
  • I have seen no successful examples


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