Comparing Block-based Programming Models for Two-armed Robots
Modern industrial robots can work alongside human workers and coordinate with other robots. This means they can perform complex tasks, but doing so requires complex programming. Therefore, robots are typically programmed by experts, but there are not enough to meet the growing demand for robots. To reduce the need for experts, researchers have tried to make robot programming accessible to factory workers without programming experience. However, none of that previous work supports coordinating multiple robot arms that work on the same task. In this paper we present four block-based programming language designs that enable end-users to program two-armed robots. We analyze the benefits and trade-offs of each design on expressiveness and user cognition, and evaluate the designs based on a survey of 273 professional participants of whom 110 had no previous programming experience. We further present an interactive experiment based on a prototype implementation of the design we deem best. This experiment confirmed that novices can successfully use our prototype to complete realistic robotics tasks. This work contributes to making coordinated programming of robots accessible to end-users. It further explores how visual programming elements can make traditionally challenging programming tasks more beginner-friendly.
This Journal First paper was accepted to TSE in September, 2020 and has not appeared in any other venue. The approach is highly visual and would benefit from a visual presentation in the ICSE Journal First track. The talk would be the first author’s first, and only, ICSE presentation.