IROS 2017 Workshop

Human-Robot Interaction in
Collaborative Manufacturing Environments

IROS 2017 — Vancouver, Canada — September 24, 2017

Important Dates

  • Full/short paper submission deadline (Extended): August 11, 2017 @ 11:59pm PT (UTC-7)
  • Acceptance notification: September 1, 2017
  • Camera-ready deadline: September 8, 2017
  • Workshop: September 24, 2017


The objective of this workshop is to discuss the design, development, and deployment of hardware/software systems for the recognition (from humans) and generation (by the robot) of social behaviors that enable robots to be more effective co-workers with their human counterparts in real-world collaborative manufacturing environments. A strong emphasis will be put on systems that support bidirectional communication between humans and robots for closed-loop operations in human-robot collaborative scenarios. This workshop will bring together academic researchers and industry partners to frame problems and solutions in real-world contexts.

Robotic technologies have become well-established in the manufacturing industry for reducing worker ergonomic stress and workload by performing operations quickly, repeatedly, and accurately. With the introduction of compliant robotic agents (e.g., Rethink Robotics’ Baxter and Sawyer, Kuka’s iiwa, Franka’s Emika, etc.), there is a growing opportunity for collaborative partnerships between humans and industrial robots jointly completing various manufacturing tasks, such as assembly, inspection, box-packing, and part-delivery, among others. As robots continue to be integrated into the workplace as versatile aids for industry automation, it is important to develop effective human-robot communication mechanisms that facilitate seamless cooperation and intuitive communication between humans and robots.

Such collaboration increases manufacturing productivity by effectively combining the capabilities of each partner: the intelligence, experience, and responsiveness of human co-workers, and the accuracy, repeatability, and speed of robotic assistants. A key to facilitate direct and physical human-robot collaboration is developing clear, natural, and bidirectional communication methods to exchange shared understanding and goals between both human and robot collaborators.

In human-human collaborations, workers use a variety of social signals—such as speech, pose, gestures, and touch—to bilaterally transmit commands and task-relevant information. Endowing robots with similar capacities requires new contributions in human-robot interaction (HRI), including gestures, visual attention, proxemics, feedback cues, and turn-taking, among others.

Transferring these signals and collaboration techniques from the lab to industrial application poses novel HRI challenges. While these technologies can contribute to improved ergonomics, increased productivity and worker safety, industrial application is still very difficult as machine safety standards have to be satisfied.

Topics of Interest

  • Multimodal human-robot interaction for collaboration
  • Verbal, nonverbal, and co-verbal human-robot interaction for collaboration
  • Bidirectional gestural communication (e.g., emblematic, iconic, deictic, etc.)
  • Human-robot proxemics
  • Explicit, implicit, and back-channel feedback cues
  • Manufacturing use cases
  • Safety standards for collaborative human-robot interaction
  • … and more!

Paper Categories

  • Full Papers (5-6 pages): highlight state-of-the-art research framing industrial automation as a collaborative HRI problem
  • Short Papers (1-2 pages): outline new or controversial views, or describe ongoing work in collaborative HRI in manufacturing settings

Submission Guidelines 

All papers must be written in English and submitted electronically as a US letter-sized (8.5” x 11”) PDF format of length no more or less than the page limit of the corresponding submission type.

Presentation and Publication

All accepted full and short papers will be presented orally and published online on the workshop website. Authors will be notified as to whether they have been assigned a “full-length” or “lightning” presentation slot. Authors assigned to lightning talks will be invited to participate in a poster session.

Invited Speakers

Prof. Julie Shah
Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Prof. Clément Gosselin
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Laval University

Planned Activities

  • Presentations: Full length and “lightning” oral presentations of accepted full and short papers. Presenters of lightning research talks will be invited to participate in a poster session.
  • Invited Speakers Invited talks will give different perspectives on the intersection of human-robot interaction and industrial automation. Moderated discussions will allow participants to engage in collaborative public discussion on controversial topics and issues of interest to the workshop audience.
  • Breakout Sessions: Participants will gather into small groups to discuss topics related to technical, societal, legal, and ethical considerations for collaborative HRI in manufacturing settings, and present the results of their discussion to the workshop audience.
  • Networking: A large part of this effort is to bring together a community of researchers, strengthen old connections, and build new ones. Ample time will be provided for networking and informal discussions.


For more information, contact the workshop organizers at iros.workshop.hri.2017(at)


Sara Sheikholeslami
Collaborative Advanced Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CARIS) Laboratory
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of British Columbia

Ross Mead, PhD
Founder and CEO

Prof. Elizabeth A. Croft
Collaborative Advanced Robotics and Intelligent Systems (CARIS) Laboratory
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of British Columbia

Florian Krebs
Team Leader, Flexible Automation Systems
Institute for Structures and Design / Center for Lightweight Production Technology (ZLP)
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Manfred Schöenheits
Institute for Structures and Design / Center for Lightweight Production Technology (ZLP)
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

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