Ergodicity reveals assistance and learning from physical human-robot interaction

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Science Robotics  17 Apr 2019:
Vol. 4, Issue 29, eaav6079
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aav6079


This paper applies information theoretic principles to the investigation of physical human-robot interaction. Drawing from the study of human perception and neural encoding, information theoretic approaches offer a perspective that enables quantitatively interpreting the body as an information channel and bodily motion as an information-carrying signal. We show that ergodicity, which can be interpreted as the degree to which a trajectory encodes information about a task, correctly predicts changes due to reduction of a person’s existing deficit or the addition of algorithmic assistance. The measure also captures changes from training with robotic assistance. Other common measures for assessment failed to capture at least one of these effects. This information-based interpretation of motion can be applied broadly, in the evaluation and design of human-machine interactions, in learning by demonstration paradigms, or in human motion analysis.

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