Human-robot Interaction

Successful integration of robotics into the human sphere requires significant research on methods for direct human-robot interaction (HRI), unhindered by handheld interfaces, and grounded in the physical world in which people work and play.

The overall goals of this research are to contribute to the development of knowledge, methods, and algorithms for natural, transparent HRI that enable humans and robots to interact effectively and cooperatively in unstructured, shared spaces. Motions, gestures, forces, and other cues are effectively used by pairs working together to manage cooperative tasks – particularly in situations where noise or other audio barriers preclude verbal communication. Other channels, such as physiological sensing, can provide cues around readiness and satisfaction. These cues signal transition-related information essential to the collaboration flow such as: turn taking/giving, role changes (e.g., leader/follower, instructor/trainee) and state changes (e.g., ready/waiting/busy, unsure/confident).

Our CHARM (Collaborative Human-focused Robotics for Manufacturing) project provides a focus for this work, as we develop and implement methods for humans and robots to work together on manufacturing assembly tasks.

Check out this video demonstration of a robot-human handover controller developed in our lab.

CHARM: Collaborative, Human-focused, Assistive Robotics for Manufacturing

(Original source)

Helping Manufacturers CHARM Their Way Into New Business

CHARM is a research project that together with General Motors of Canada, is exploring ways of deploying robots in manufacturing environments to enhance workers’ capabilities and make production lines more flexible.

CHARM (Collaborative, Human-focused, Assistive Robotics for Manufacturing) is led by University of British Columbia (UBC) mechanical engineering professor Elizabeth Croft. A leading expert in the cutting-edge field of human-robot interaction, she is also NSERC’s Chair for Women in Science and Engineering for the British Columbia and Yukon Region. Dr. Croft is working with researchers from UBC (Karon Maclean), McGill University (Frank Ferrie) and Université Laval (Clément Gosselin and Denis Laurendeau). The research focusses on the potential for smart machines to improve the ability of workers to handle an increased range of products and operations while improving product quality and worker safety. At a time of fierce global competition, this research could give Canada a significant edge in advanced manufacturing and further develop a highly skilled workforce as the marketplace undergoes rapid change. NSERC is investing $621,000 in the four-year Collaborative Research and Development project.

New developments, innovations, and advancements in robotic technology are paving the way for the use of intelligent robots to enable, support, and enhance the capabilities of human workers in manufacturing environments. While the vast majority of current industrial robots have little to no direct interaction with humans, we envision that future industrial robots will assist people in the workplace, support workers in a variety of tasks, improve manufacturing quality and processes, and increase productivity.

CHARM Website

Principal Investigator

Dr. Elizabeth Croft, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, UBC


AJung Moon
Matthew Pan
Ergun Calisgan
Benjamin Blumer


General Motors of Canada Ltd.
Dr. Karon MacLean, Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of British Columbia
Dr. Frank Ferrie, Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, McGill University
Dr. Denis Laurendeau, Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Université Laval
Dr. Clément Gosselin, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Université Laval


Roboethics is an exciting interdisciplinary field of study that deals with social, ethical, and legal implications of robotics technology. As we gradually bring robots into our homes, offices, hospitals and schools, it is important that we ask and answer questions such as: “what should a robot be allowed to do?” “what kind of relationship should we have with robots?” and “how can we implement socially acceptable behaviours into not only robot designs but also the design process itself?”

At the CARIS lab, we are developing an online community called Open Robotics initiative (ORi) to ask and answer some of these questions and to help roboticists make informed design decisions. In the years to come, ORi plans to tightly link ethics discussion with open-source robot designs to better realise robots that are truly human-friendly.


AJung Moon


Dr. Mike Van der Loos, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, UBC
Dr. Elizabeth Croft, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, UBC
Fiorella Operto, President, Scuola di Robotica
Gianmarco Veruggio, Chair of the Scientific Committee , Scuola di Robotica

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