On May 25th MassRobotics and MITRE hosted Dr. Misha Novitzky, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT, and Dr. Charlene Stokes, expert in Industrial-Organizational & Human Factors Psychology, to share their thoughts on Human-Machine Teaming: Uniting Theory-driven and Evidence-based Approaches.

Dr. Novitzky helps lead the Aquaticus project and presented information on the program and their research objectives:

What is Aquaticus? Aquaticus is a project with the goal of developing a competition where humans and robots compete together against similarly configured teams of humans and robots. The competition is conducted on the water in about a one square kilometer area off the MIT Sailing Pavilion. Students are responsible for designing and building the autonomy algorithms driving their robots and competing alongside their robots, in a suspenseful and challenging competition with their peers.

Research objectives: This research aims to explore a relatively poorly understood intersection of two well known areas of robotic systems research: the (embedded) human-robot interface and multi- robot zero-sum competitions. The intersection is created by embedding humans alongside robots, as equal teammates, on a playing field competing against a similarly configured team. Autonomy algorithm design and human robot communications will be re-considered from the perspective of the situated human who will be dealing with stress, uncertainty and pressures of performing their own role in the competition, in coordination with their robot teammates.

Dr. Charlene Stokes of MITRE spoke about her research that seeks to optimize user and autonomous system performance by harnessing the inherent social cognitive underpinnings of human-machine teams. The largely unconscious, social affective cues of human-robot interaction have been relatively neglected amid the explosive growth of AI & robotics in military and commercial sectors. In addition to the risks posed, this neglect has resulted in a critical capability gap that could lead to untapped efficiency, effectiveness, trust, and use of future systems.

While our crowd at MassRobotics enjoyed these live presentations, a group from MITRE joined us, as the talks were broadcast back to MITRE Bedford and McLean campuses.