Countless science fiction thrillers have portrayed a futuristic world populated by robots. However, this fantastical image may not be so far-fetched after all.
With a $400,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research with his partners at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, Michael Goodrich, a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science, is currently researching ideal interactions between humans and robots. Specifically, Goodrich and his partners seek to identify how to construct effective teams of multiple humans managing multiple remote robots.
There are currently many types of robots used in a variety of different situations. Unmanned aerial vehicles may enter hostage locations to help police officers understand the situation while remaining safely out of danger. Robotic vehicles can survey borders, allowing soldiers to serve in more demanding capacities. Still other robots may be sent on search-and-rescue missions that could prove hazardous to rescuers.
All the information obtained from these robots can only be effective if humans manage these machines correctly. Human supervisors must find the right balance between too many robots where important data could be lost, and too few robots where not enough information is collected. Goodrich’s research examines the best possible organizations.
Goodrich said his research has several practical applications. He said robots could be most effectively used in “dull, dirty, or dangerous tasks.”
“Highly trained personnel should not waste their time on monotonous projects or place themselves in life-threatening situations,” Goodrich said. “The cost of a human life is too great. Robots present an excellent alternative.”
Robots may soon become an integral part of both our national and domestic security forces. The incredible future Hollywood has predicted for so long may be realized as robots become increasingly integrated into our daily lives and change the world as we know it.
-- Natalie Wilson, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences
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