Human-Robot Collaborative Design

The Collaborative Design project explores co-present and collaborative design space exploration between humans and robots.

Collaborators: Guy Hoffman, Matthew Law, Nikhil Dhawan, Amrit Kwatra.

When human designers work together, they can generate designs they may never have considered on their own. Similarly, computer agents have been used extensively as tools to augment or exceed human design processes. Humans and machines tend to have very different strengths and weaknesses, and recent work has looked at ways that human designers can improve computational design or vice versa.

Our research asks what would happen if humans and machines were instead to work together, physically, side by side, as peer collaborators in design tasks. How might they infer and account for each others’ tendencies, preferences, and mental models in real time? And what are the effects of this palpable interaction on design processes, experiences, and outcomes?

For example, we built a tangible user interface (TUI) that allows a human designer to explore deployments of earth-observing sensors physically, alongside a computational agent.

We studied the effects of humans collaboratively designing with a virtual design assistant through this TUI, and are currently exploring how this interaction changes when the agent is embodied physially in a robot.

We are also exploring human-computer collaboration in other dynamic design problems, such as the drawing of fair voting districts, as well as collaborative design with a computer agent and a group of human designers.