Max is a research assistant and a doctoral student at the TU Dortmund University (Prof. Dr. Jens Gerken) in cooperation with the University of Duisburg-Essen in the field of Human-Robot Interaction. His research interests and experiences cover a broad range of topics, such as novel interaction techniques in human-robot collaborations, intervention strategies in autonomous robot tasks, distributed systems, virtual/augmented/mixed reality, and artificial intelligence.
Fields of Research:
- Human-Robot Collaboration
- Intervention Strategies/ Interfaces
- Multimodal Input & Feedback Technologies
- Augemented/Mixed/Virtual Reality
- Assistive Technologies
- ZELIA - Zuhause eigenständig leben im Alter. 2015 -2016. http://www.projekt-zelia.de/. (BMBF)
- MobILe - Physische Mensch-Roboter Interaktion für ein selbstbestimmtes Leben. 2017 - 2020. https://www.interaktive-technologien.de/projekte/mobile. (BMBF)
- DoF-Adaptiv - Adaptive Freiheitsgradeinbettung als kooperatives Userinterface für einen Assistenzroboter. 2021 - 2024. https://www.interaktive-technologien.de/projekte/dof-adaptiv. (BMBF)
- Pascher, Max; Goldau, Felix Ferdinand; Kronhardt, Kirill; Frese, Udo; Gerken, Jens: AdaptiX – A Transitional XR Framework for Development and Evaluation of Shared Control Applications in Assistive Robotics. In: Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact., Vol 8 (2024) No EICS. doi:10.48550/ARXIV.2310.15887PDFCitationAbstractDetails
With the ongoing efforts to empower people with mobility impairments and the increase in technological acceptance by the general public, assistive technologies, such as collaborative robotic arms, are gaining popularity. Yet, their widespread success is limited by usability issues, specifically the disparity between user input and software control along the autonomy continuum. To address this, shared control concepts provide opportunities to combine the targeted increase of user autonomy with a certain level of computer assistance. This paper presents the free and open-source AdaptiX XR framework for developing and evaluating shared control applications in a high-resolution simulation environment. The initial framework consists of a simulated robotic arm with an example scenario in Virtual Reality (VR), multiple standard control interfaces, and a specialized recording/replay system. AdaptiX can easily be extended for specific research needs, allowing Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) researchers to rapidly design and test novel interaction methods, intervention strategies, and multi-modal feedback techniques, without requiring an actual physical robotic arm during the early phases of ideation, prototyping, and evaluation. Also, a Robot Operating System (ROS) integration enables the controlling of a real robotic arm in a PhysicalTwin approach without any simulation-reality gap. Here, we review the capabilities and limitations of AdaptiX in detail and present three bodies of research based on the framework. AdaptiX can be accessed at adaptix.robot-research.de.
- Pascher, Max; Kronhardt, Kirill; Goldau, Felix Ferdinand; Frese, Udo; Gerken, Jens: In Time and Space: Towards Usable Adaptive Control for Assistive Robotic Arms. In: RO-MAN 2023 - IEEE International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication. IEEE, Busan, Korea 2023, p. 2300-2307. doi:10.1109/RO-MAN57019.2023.10309381PDFCitationAbstractDetails
Robotic solutions, in particular robotic arms, are becoming more frequently deployed for close collaboration with humans, for example in manufacturing or domestic care environments. These robotic arms require the user to control several Degrees-of-Freedom (DoFs) to perform tasks, primarily involving grasping and manipulating objects. Standard input devices predominantly have two DoFs, requiring time-consuming and cognitively demanding mode switches to select individual DoFs. Contemporary Adaptive DoF Mapping Controls (ADMCs) have shown to decrease the necessary number of mode switches but were up to now not able to significantly reduce the perceived workload. Users still bear the mental workload of incorporating abstract mode switching into their workflow. We address this by providing feed-forward multimodal feedback using updated recommendations of ADMC, allowing users to visually compare the current and the suggested mapping in real-time. We contrast the effectiveness of two new approaches that a) continuously recommend updated DoF combinations or b) use discrete thresholds between current robot movements and new recommendations. Both are compared in a Virtual Reality (VR) in-person study against a classic control method. Significant results for lowered task completion time, fewer mode switches, and reduced perceived workload conclusively establish that in combination with feedforward, ADMC methods can indeed outperform classic mode switching. A lack of apparent quantitative differences between Continuous and Threshold reveals the importance of user-centered customization options. Including these implications in the development process will improve usability, which is essential for successfully implementing robotic technologies with high user acceptance.
- Pascher, Max; Grünefeld, Uwe; Schneegass, Stefan; Gerken, Jens: How to Communicate Robot Motion Intent: A Scoping Review. In: Acm (Ed.): Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’23). 2023. doi:10.1145/3544548.3580857PDFFull textCitationAbstractDetails
Robots are becoming increasingly omnipresent in our daily lives, supporting us and carrying out autonomous tasks. In Human-Robot Interaction, human actors benefit from understanding the robot's motion intent to avoid task failures and foster collaboration. Finding effective ways to communicate this intent to users has recently received increased research interest. However, no common language has been established to systematize robot motion intent. This work presents a scoping review aimed at unifying existing knowledge. Based on our analysis, we present an intent communication model that depicts the relationship between robot and human through different intent dimensions (intent type, intent information, intent location). We discuss these different intent dimensions and their interrelationships with different kinds of robots and human roles. Throughout our analysis, we classify the existing research literature along our intent communication model, allowing us to identify key patterns and possible directions for future research.
- Pascher, Max; Franzen, Til; Kronhardt, Kirill; Grünefeld, Uwe; Schneegass, Stefan; Gerken, Jens: HaptiX: Vibrotactile Haptic Feedback for Communication of 3D Directional Cues. In: Acm (Ed.): Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Extended Abstract (CHI ’23). 2023. doi:10.1145/3544549.3585601PDFFull textCitationAbstractDetails
In Human-Computer-Interaction, vibrotactile haptic feedback offers the advantage of being independent of any visual perception of the environment. Most importantly, the user's field of view is not obscured by user interface elements, and the visual sense is not unnecessarily strained. This is especially advantageous when the visual channel is already busy, or the visual sense is limited. We developed three design variants based on different vibrotactile illusions to communicate 3D directional cues. In particular, we explored two variants based on the vibrotactile illusion of the cutaneous rabbit and one based on apparent vibrotactile motion. To communicate gradient information, we combined these with pulse-based and intensity-based mapping. A subsequent study showed that the pulse-based variants based on the vibrotactile illusion of the cutaneous rabbit are suitable for communicating both directional and gradient characteristics. The results further show that a representation of 3D directions via vibrations can be effective and beneficial.
- Pascher, Max; Kronhardt, Kirill; Franzen, Til; Gerken, Jens: Adaptive DoF: Concepts to Visualize AI-generated Movements in Human-Robot Collaboration. In: Proceedings of the 2022 International Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces (AVI 2022). ACM, NewYork, NY, USA 2022. doi:10.1145/3531073.3534479CitationAbstractDetails
Nowadays, robots collaborate closely with humans in a growing number of areas. Enabled by lightweight materials and safety sensors , these cobots are gaining increasing popularity in domestic care, supporting people with physical impairments in their everyday lives. However, when cobots perform actions autonomously, it remains challenging for human collaborators to understand and predict their behavior. This, however, is crucial for achieving trust and user acceptance. One significant aspect of predicting cobot behavior is understanding their motion intent and comprehending how they "think" about their actions. We work on solutions that communicate the cobots AI-generated motion intent to a human collaborator. Effective communication enables users to proceed with the most suitable option. We present a design exploration with different visualization techniques to optimize this user understanding, ideally resulting in increased safety and end-user acceptance.
- Pascher, Max; Kronhardt, Kirill; Franzen, Til; Gruenefeld, Uwe; Schneegass, Stefan; Gerken, Jens: My Caregiver the Cobot: Comparing Visualization Techniques to Effectively Communicate Cobot Perception to People with Physical Impairments. In: MDPI Sensors, Vol 22 (2022). doi:10.3390/s22030755Full textCitationAbstractDetails
Nowadays, robots are found in a growing number of areas where they collaborate closely with humans. Enabled by lightweight materials and safety sensors, these cobots are gaining increasing popularity in domestic care, where they support people with physical impairments in their everyday lives. However, when cobots perform actions autonomously, it remains challenging for human collaborators to understand and predict their behavior, which is crucial for achieving trust and user acceptance. One significant aspect of predicting cobot behavior is understanding their perception and comprehending how they "see" the world. To tackle this challenge, we compared three different visualization techniques for Spatial Augmented Reality. All of these communicate cobot perception by visually indicating which objects in the cobot's surrounding have been identified by their sensors. We compared the well-established visualizations Wedge and Halo against our proposed visualization Line in a remote user experiment with participants suffering from physical impairments. In a second remote experiment, we validated these findings with a broader non-specific user base. Our findings show that Line, a lower complexity visualization, results in significantly faster reaction times compared to Halo, and lower task load compared to both Wedge and Halo. Overall, users prefer Line as a more straightforward visualization. In Spatial Augmented Reality, with its known disadvantage of limited projection area size, established off-screen visualizations are not effective in communicating cobot perception and Line presents an easy-to-understand alternative.
- Kronhardt, Kirill; Rübner, Stephan; Pascher, Max; Goldau, Felix Ferdinand; Frese, Udo; Gerken, Jens: Adapt or Perish? Exploring the Effectiveness of Adaptive DoF Control Interaction Methods for Assistive Robot Arms. In: Technologies, Vol 10 (2022). doi:10.3390/technologies10010030Full textCitationAbstractDetails
Robot arms are one of many assistive technologies used by people with motor impairments. Assistive robot arms can allow people to perform activities of daily living (ADL) involving grasping and manipulating objects in their environment without the assistance of caregivers. Suitable input devices (e.g., joysticks) mostly have two Degrees of Freedom (DoF), while most assistive robot arms have six or more. This results in time-consuming and cognitively demanding mode switches to change the mapping of DoFs to control the robot. One option to decrease the difficulty of controlling a high-DoF assistive robot arm using a low-DoF input device is to assign different combinations of movement-DoFs to the device\’s input DoFs depending on the current situation (adaptive control). To explore this method of control, we designed two adaptive control methods for a realistic virtual 3D environment. We evaluated our methods against a commonly used non-adaptive control method that requires the user to switch controls manually. This was conducted in a simulated remote study that used Virtual Reality and involved 39 non-disabled participants. Our results show that the number of mode switches necessary to complete a simple pick-and-place task decreases significantly when using an adaptive control type. In contrast, the task completion time and workload stay the same. A thematic analysis of qualitative feedback of our participants suggests that a longer period of training could further improve the performance of adaptive control methods.
- Arboleda, S. A.; Pascher, Max; Lakhnati, Y.; Gerken, Jens: Understanding Human-Robot Collaboration for People with Mobility Impairments at the Workplace, a Thematic Analysis. In: 29th IEEE International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication. ACM, 2021. doi:10.1109/RO-MAN47096.2020.9223489.CitationAbstractDetails
Assistive technologies such as human-robot collaboration, have the potential to ease the life of people with physical mobility impairments in social and economic activities. Currently, this group of people has lower rates of economic participation, due to the lack of adequate environments adapted to their capabilities. We take a closer look at the needs and preferences of people with physical mobility impairments in a human-robot cooperative environment at the workplace. Specifically, we aim to design how to control a robotic arm in manufacturing tasks for people with physical mobility impairments. We present a case study of a sheltered-workshop as a prototype for an institution that employs people with disabilities in manufacturing jobs. Here, we collected data of potential end-users with physical mobility impairments, social workers, and supervisors using a participatory design technique (Future-Workshop). These stakeholders were divided into two groups, primary (end-users) and secondary users (social workers, supervisors), which were run across two separate sessions. The gathered information was analyzed using thematic analysis to reveal underlying themes across stakeholders. We identified concepts that highlight underlying concerns related to the robot fitting in the social and organizational structure, human-robot synergy, and human-robot problem management. In this paper, we present our findings and discuss the implications of each theme when shaping an inclusive human-robot cooperative workstation for people with physical mobility impairments.
- Pascher, Max; Baumeister, Annalies; Schneegass, Stefan; Klein, Barbara; Gerken, Jens: Recommendations for the Development of a Robotic Drinking and Eating Aid - An Ethnographic Study. In: Ardito, Carmelo; Lanzilotti, Rosa; Malizia, Alessio; Petrie, Helen; Piccinno, Antonio; Desolda, Giuseppe; Inkpen, Kori (Ed.): Human-Computer Interaction -- INTERACT 2021. Springer International Publishing, Cham 2021, p. 331-351. CitationAbstractDetails
Being able to live independently and self-determined in one's own home is a crucial factor or human dignity and preservation of self-worth. For people with severe physical impairments who cannot use their limbs for every day tasks, living in their own home is only possible with assistance from others. The inability to move arms and hands makes it hard to take care of oneself, e.g. drinking and eating independently. In this paper, we investigate how 15 participants with disabilities consume food and drinks. We report on interviews, participatory observations, and analyzed the aids they currently use. Based on our findings, we derive a set of recommendations that supports researchers and practitioners in designing future robotic drinking and eating aids for people with disabilities.
- Arevalo Arboleda, Stephanie; Pascher, Max; Baumeister, Annalies; Klein, Barbara; Gerken, Jens: Reflecting upon Participatory Design in Human-Robot Collaboration for People with Motor Disabilities: Challenges and Lessons Learned from Three Multiyear Projects. In: The 14th PErvasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments Conference. Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA 2021, p. 147-155. doi:10.1145/3453892.3458044CitationAbstractDetails
Human-robot technology has the potential to positively impact the lives of people with motor disabilities. However, current efforts have mostly been oriented towards technology (sensors, devices, modalities, interaction techniques), thus relegating the user and their valuable input to the wayside. In this paper, we aim to present a holistic perspective of the role of participatory design in Human-Robot Collaboration (HRC) for People with Motor Disabilities (PWMD). We have been involved in several multiyear projects related to HRC for PWMD, where we encountered different challenges related to planning and participation, preferences of stakeholders, using certain participatory design techniques, technology exposure, as well as ethical, legal, and social implications. These challenges helped us provide five lessons learned that could serve as a guideline to researchers when using participatory design with vulnerable groups. In particular, early-career researchers who are starting to explore HRC research for people with disabilities.
- Borsum, Florian; Pascher, Max; Auda, Jonas; Schneegass, Stefan; Lux, Gregor; Gerken, Jens: Stay on Course in VR: Comparing the Precision of Movement between Gamepad, Armswinger, and Treadmill: Kurs Halten in VR: Vergleich Der Bewegungspräzision von Gamepad, Armswinger Und Laufstall, Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA 2021. (ISBN 9781450386456) doi:10.1145/3473856.3473880) CitationAbstractDetails
In diesem Beitrag wird untersucht, inwieweit verschiedene Formen von Fortbewegungstechniken in Virtual Reality Umgebungen Einfluss auf die Präzision bei der Interaktion haben. Dabei wurden insgesamt drei Techniken untersucht: Zwei der Techniken integrieren dabei eine körperliche Aktivität, um einen hohen Grad an Realismus in der Bewegung zu erzeugen (Armswinger, Laufstall). Als dritte Technik wurde ein Gamepad als Baseline herangezogen. In einer Studie mit 18 Proband:innen wurde die Präzision dieser drei Fortbewegungstechniken über sechs unterschiedliche Hindernisse in einem VR-Parcours untersucht. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass für einzelne Hindernisse, die zum einen eine Kombination aus Vorwärts- und Seitwärtsbewegung erfordern (Slalom, Klippe) sowie auf Geschwindigkeit abzielen (Schiene), der Laufstall eine signifikant präzisere Steuerung ermöglicht als der Armswinger. Auf den gesamten Parcours gesehen ist jedoch kein Eingabegerät signifikant präziser als ein anderes. Die Benutzung des Laufstalls beötigt zudem signifikant mehr Zeit als Gamepad und Armswinger. Ebenso zeigte sich, dass das Ziel, eine reale Laufbewegung 1:1 abzubilden, auch mit einem Laufstall nach wie vor nicht erreicht wird, die Bewegung aber dennoch als intuitiv und immersiv wahrgenommen wird.
- Jonas Auda, Max Pascher; Schneegass, Stefan: Around the (Virtual) World - Infinite Walking in Virtual Reality Using Electrical Muscle Stimulation. In: Acm (Ed.): CHI'19 Proceedings. Glasgow 2019. doi:https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300661PDFCitationAbstractDetails
Virtual worlds are infinite environments in which the user can move around freely. When shifting from controller-based movement to regular walking as an input, the limitation of the real world also limits the virtual world. Tackling this challenge, we propose the use of electrical muscle stimulation to limit the necessary real-world space to create an unlimited walking experience. We thereby actuate the users‘ legs in a way that they deviate from their straight route and thus, walk in circles in the real world while still walking straight in the virtual world. We report on a study comparing this approach to vision shift – the state-of-the-art approach – as well as combining both approaches. The results show that particularly combining both approaches yield high potential to create an infinite walking experience.
- Pascher, Max; Schneegass, Stefan; Gerken, Jens: SwipeBuddy. In: Lamas, David; Loizides, Fernando; Nacke, Lennart; Petrie, Helen; Winckler, Marco; Zaphiris, Panayiotis (Ed.): Human-Computer Interaction -- INTERACT 2019. Springer International Publishing, Cham 2019, p. 568-571. CitationAbstractDetails
Mobile devices are the core computing platform we use in our everyday life to communicate with friends, watch movies, or read books. For people with severe physical disabilities, such as tetraplegics, who cannot use their hands to operate such devices, these devices are barely usable. Tackling this challenge, we propose SwipeBuddy, a teleoperated robot allowing for touch interaction with a smartphone, tablet, or ebook-reader. The mobile device is mounted on top of the robot and can be teleoperated by a user through head motions and gestures controlling a stylus simulating touch input. Further, the user can control the position and orientation of the mobile device. We demonstrate the SwipeBuddy robot device and its different interaction capabilities.
- Arévalo-Arboleda, Stephanie; Pascher, Max; Gerken, Jens: Opportunities and Challenges in Mixed-Reality for an Inclusive Human-Robot Collaboration Environment. In: Proceedings of the 2018 International Workshop on Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality for Human-Robot Interactions (VAM-HRI) as part of the ACM/IEEE Conference on Human-Robot Interaction. Chicago, USA 2018. CitationAbstractDetails
This paper presents an approach to enhance robot control using Mixed-Reality. It highlights the opportunities and challenges in the interaction design to achieve a Human-Robot Collaborative environment. In fact, Human-Robot Collaboration is the perfect space for social inclusion. It enables people, who suffer severe physical impairments, to interact with the environment by providing them movement control of an external robotic arm. Now, when discussing about robot control it is important to reduce the visual-split that different input and output modalities carry. Therefore, Mixed-Reality is of particular interest when trying to ease communication between humans and robotic systems.
- Pascher, Max: Praxisbeispiel Digitalisierung konkret: Wenn der Stromzähler weiß, ob es Oma gut geht. Beschreibung des minimalinvasiven Frühwarnsystems „ZELIA“. In: Wege in die digitale Zukunft - Was bedeuten Smart Living, Big Data, Robotik & Co für die Sozialwirtschaft? S. 137-148. Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, . CitationDetails
- Pascher, Max; Baumeister, Annalies; Klein, Barbara; Schneegass, Stefan; Gerken, Jens: Little Helper: A Multi-Robot System in Home Health Care Environments. In: Ecole Nationale de l'Aviation Civile [ENAC] . CitationAbstractDetails
Being able to live independently and self-determined in once own home is a crucial factor for social participation. For people with severe physical impairments, such as tetraplegia, who cannot use their hands to manipulate materials or operate devices, life in their own home is only possible with assistance from others. The inability to operate buttons and other interfaces results also in not being able to utilize most assistive technologies on their own. In this paper, we present an ethnographic field study with 15 tetraplegics to better understand their living environments and needs. Results show the potential for robotic solutions but emphasize the need to support activities of daily living (ADL), such as grabbing and manipulating objects or opening doors. Based on this, we propose Little Helper, a tele-operated pack of robot drones, collaborating in a divide and conquer paradigm to fulfill several tasks using a unique interaction method. The drones can be tele-operated by a user through gaze-based selection and head motions and gestures manipulating materials and applications.