Exploring Cognition and Affect during Human-Cobot Interaction

Funded by the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) of the College of Engineering (CENG). The purpose of the SURP program is to provide research experiences for our undergraduate students working alongside our faculty during the summer. This program also supports the scholarly efforts of our faculty through engagement with undergraduate students. Projects led to student-faculty-authored publications in venues appropriate to the area of research conducted during the summer. Further, the program invites industrial and other external sponsors to provide university-industry collaborative research and project activities.


A collaborative robot (cobot) is intended for direct human-robot interaction within a shared space or where humans and robots are close. The Cobot is responsible for repetitive, menial tasks, while a human worker completes more complex and thought-intensive tasks. Human- robot collaboration and communication are critical challenges that must be addressed for trust and safety.

Affective states in a human influence cognitive processes like memory and attention, and Cognition might trigger affective behaviors. Affective states and Cognitive factors are critical in the human decision-making process. While cooperation and communication could come naturally to humans, among others, due to our capacity to identify other humans’ affective and cognitive states, this capability is missing in Human-Robot interaction.

In that context, this summer’s undergraduate research project focuses on (1) Developing collaborative adaptive behaviors for low-cost robots (mechanical arms) to examine the human response; (2) using a low-cost Brain-Computer Interface device (Emotiv EPOC) to gather affective and cognitive data from humans while realizing manufacturing tasks; (3) Build a model that identifies relevant affective and cognitive states and trigger robot behaviors; and (4) explore the potential of this approach for skilled and unskilled human users.