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Meet our E.P.I.C. Researcher, Yuan Liu

Yuan Liu is a PhD researcher based at Queensland University of Technology and his project is part of the Designing Socio-technical Robotic Systems at the Australian Cobotics Centre. We interviewed Yuan recently to find out more about why she does what he does.

  • Tell us a bit about yourself and your research with the Centre? Include the long-term impact of what you are doing.

In the realm of Human-Robot Collaboration (HRC), particularly in complex and dynamic environments such as assembly lines and robot-assisted surgeries, the quality of human decisions plays a pivotal role in determining outcomes. Several factors influence these decisions, including the physical and cognitive workload experienced by human operators, the design of user interfaces, and the configuration of the workspace. One promising solution for enhancing decision making in these settings involves the adoption of Extended Reality (XR) technologies. XR can offer intuitive communication, effective data visualization, user-friendly interfaces, and facilitate the ergonomic design of workspaces.

My research focuses on identifying the specific factors that impact human decision making within HRC and investigates how XR technologies can be leveraged to improve these processes. This research will address the gap regarding human decision making in HRC, develop a framework of factors affect human decision making, investigate human decision-making process in detail during HRC task, guide future XR design in HRC.

Why did you decide to be a part of the Australian Cobotics Centre?

Prior to commencing my research with ACC, I completed a master’s degree in Interactive Media, where I engaged in a project that piqued my interest in the application of immersive technologies across various fields. This experience laid the foundation for my current research focus. ACC, where I am currently conducting my research, specialises in Human-Robot Collaboration (HRC). This centre is closely aligned with real industry demands and fosters an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together researchers from diverse fields to address all facets of HRC. This multidisciplinary environment is ideal for exploring the integration and impact of immersive technologies within human-robot interaction contexts.

  • What project are you most proud of throughout your career and why?

Throughout my research career thus far, I take particular pride in my ongoing projects within both the manufacturing and healthcare industries. These studies are firmly grounded in realistic scenarios-specifically, assembly line processes in manufacturing and robot-assisted surgical procedures in healthcare. My approach is deeply rooted in industry-relevant research, employing Human-Centred Design and Research through Design strategies to ensure that the studies are not only oriented around human needs but also address real-world challenges effectively. This focus aims to optimise user interaction and enhance the practicality of technological implementations in complex and dynamic environments.

  • What do you hope the long-term impact of your work will be?

I aspire for my research to make a substantial contribution to the field of human decision making within the context of Human-Robot Collaboration (HRC). My research introduces innovative applications for Extended Reality (XR) technologies in HRC, emphasising their role in enhancing human-in-the-loop systems. This is particularly relevant in the advanced manufacturing sectors of Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0, where XR technologies are pivotal in supporting complex decision-making processes. By integrating these technologies, my work aims to facilitate more intuitive and effective collaborations between humans and robots, thereby driving efficiency and innovation in modern manufacturing environments.

  • Aside from your research, what topic could you give an hour-long presentation on with little to no preparation?

I could confidently give a presentation on emerging digital technologies, a topic I have pursued with passion for several years. My extensive knowledge, fueled by continuous exploration and reading, along with a solid background in design and technology, enables me to provide a detailed discussion. I can effectively engage an audience by sharing insightful perspectives on how these innovative technologies have profoundly influenced and reshaped our world.

Read more about Yuan’s project titled ‘Augmented and Virtual Reality in Collaborative Robotics’ HERE.

Cook Medical Placement

Our University of Technology Sydney PhD researcher, Louis Fernandez, has just completed a one-month placement with our industry partner, Cook Medical.

During his placement, Louis not only gathered data for his PhD research but also conducted a demonstration (alongside A/Prof Jared Donovan) for Cook Medical staff at their Continuous Improvement Expo. This demonstration allowed staff to interact with a cobot and experience how user-friendly it is to operate.

Louis also managed a couple of visits to QUT (Queensland University of Technology)), where he caught up with fellow members of the Human Robot Interaction research program, including James Dwyer, Dr Stine Johansen, and Prof Markus Rittenbruch.

We extend our thanks to Kettina Materna from Cook Medical for supervising Louis during his placement and to Louis’ Principal Supervisor, Dr Marc Carmichael, for organising the visit.

Such placements offer students valuable insights into the challenges faced by manufacturers when implementing technology. By engaging partners in the initial design process, solutions are more likely to be embraced by staff.

Learn more about Louis’ project – HERE