June 24-28, 2013
With the latest advancements in robotic manufacturing technology, there is a desire to integrate robot workers into the labor force to increase productivity and efficiency. However, coordinating the efforts of humans and robots in close physical proximity and under tight temporal constraints poses challenges in planning and scheduling and the design of human-robot interaction. In prior work, we present a scheduling algorithm capable of performing the coordination of heterogeneous multi-agent teams. Given this capability, we now want to understand how best to implement this technology from a human-centered perspective. Humans derive purpose and identity in their roles at work, and requiring them to dynamically change roles at the direction of an automated scheduling algorithm may result in the human worker feeling devalued. Ultimately, overall productivity of the human-robot team may degrade as a result. In this paper, we report the results of a human-subject pilot study aimed at answering how best to implement such an automated scheduling system. Specifically, we test whether giving humans more control over the task allocation process improves worker satisfaction, and we empirically measure the trade-offs of giving this control in terms of overall process efficiency.