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Revealing unexpected effects of rescue robots’ team-membership in a virtual environment

Author: Horsch, C.H.G. · Smets, N.J.J.M. · Neerincx, M.A. · Cuijpers, R.A.
Source:Comes, T.Fiedrich, al, Proceedings of the 10th International Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management Conference, ISCRAM 2013, 12-15 May 2013, Baden-Baden, Germany, 627-631
Identifier: 507227
Keywords: Robotics · USAR · Human-robot interaction · Teamwork · Team performance · Virtual environment · Shared situation awareness · Team identification · Information systems · Situation awareness · Virtual reality · Information Society · Human · PCS - Perceptual and Cognitive Systems · BSS - Behavioural and Societal Sciences


In urban search and rescue (USAR) situations resources are limited and workload is high. Robots that act as team players instead of tools could help in these situations. A Virtual Reality (VR) experiment was set up to test if team performance of a human-robot team increases when the robot act as such a team player. Three robot settings were tested ranging from the robot as a tool to the robot as a team player. Unexpectedly, team performance seemed to be the best for the tool condition. Two side-effects of increasing robot’s teammembership could explain this result: mental workload increased for the humans who had to work with the team-playing robot, whereas the tendency to share information was reduced between these humans. Future research should, thus, focus on team-memberships that improve communication and reduce cognitive workload.