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For Motion Assistance Humans Prefer to Rely on a Robot Rather Than on an Unpredictable Human

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Objective: The last decades have seen a surge of robots for physical training and work assistance. How to best control these interfaces is unknown, although arguably the interaction should be similar to human movement assistance. Methods: We compare the behaviour and assessment of subjects tracking a moving target with assistance from (i) trajectory guidance (as typically used in robots for physical training), (ii) a human partner, and (iii) the reactive robot partner of Takagi et al. Results: Trajectory guidance was recognised as robotic, while the robot partner was felt as human-like. However, trajectory guidance was preferred to assistance from a human partner, which was recognised as less predictable. The robot partner also was felt to be more predictable and helpful than a human partner, and was preferred. Conclusions: While subjects like to rely on predictable interaction, such as in trajectory guidance, the control reactivity of the robot partner is essential for perceiving an interaction as human-like.

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