The Robotics Institute

RI | Seminar | April 29

Robotics Institute Seminar, April 29
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

Shared Control of Assembly Tasks by Robots and Humans

Sanjiv Singh

Associate Research Professor

Carnegie Mellon University




Time and Place

Mauldin Auditorium (NSH 1305)
Refreshments 3:15 pm
Talk 3:30 pm




An important class of multi-robot coordination consists of tasks that require tightly-coupled coordination of more than one machine.  For this class of tasks, coordination of multiple independent degrees of freedom is a matter of necessity rather than one of efficiency.   For example, within our lifetime, teams of robots will assemble structures in space.  Such assembly is expected to be complex enough that humans and robots will need to share control to be both reliable and efficient.


To test our ideas, we are developing a coordinated team of robots to assemble structures, a task that can't be performed by any single robot.  Even simple operations in this domain require complex interaction between multiple robots and the number of contingencies that must be addressed by a fully autonomous system is prohibitively large.  This scenario forces incorporation of a human operator. Ideally, we would like a seamless interface between the robots and the operator such that the operator can interact with the system by helping it be more efficient or get out of a stuck condition or by explicitly controlling a robot to perform a task that it is not capable of performing itself.


We have developed an architecture that allows autonomy to “slide” between the robot team and a human operator. The operator can step in and take over control of part or all of the assembly either when the system discovers that it is failing and requests help or if the operator notices an opportunity to make performance more effective.  I will present recent results in efficiency and reliability from an extended series of experiments in which a team of three robots and an operator work together to assemble structures across the spectrum of autonomy from fully teleoperated to fully autonomous. These results quantify the benefit of the shared control of assembly by robot and human teams.  I will conclude with pointing to current research questions in this area—how we can analyze plans for assembly by multiple agents, how the robots autonomously learn about the operator and how humans participating in such teams should direct the robots.



Speaker Biography


Arriving at Carnegie Mellon in 1985, Sanjiv Singh has been an engineer, student, scientist and more recently a professor at the Robotics Institute. His current work focuses on two research themes.   The first develops perception (collision avoidance and egomotion estimation) for robots operating in natural environments.  The other develops coordination for multiple agents in dynamic environments.  He is the Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Field Robotics.



Speaker Appointments

For appointments, please contact Sanjiv Singh (

The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.