Inspector Baxter: The Social Aspects of Integrating a Robot as a Quality Inspector in an Assembly Line

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We are interested in the social implications of working alongside robots. In this paper we look at a humanoid robot quality inspector, acting alongside workers in an assembly line. This setting is viable in small scale assembly lines where human assembly workers provide flexible, rapid assembly. A robotic quality inspector could enhance the quality assurance process, but places the robot in a position of relative seniority to the assembly workers. We present the results of an initial in-lab pilot study designed with our industry collaborators. In our pilot, a humanoid robot visually inspected participants’ assembled products in a shared workspace and provided critiques that follow simple models of robotic social feedback. Our findings suggest that people’s opinions of the robot (trust, impression of intelligence, etc.) changed based on the robot’s social behaviors while it is judging the participant’s work. Additionally, people rated the robot more negatively if they disagreed with the robot’s opinions of their work, regardless of the robot social behavior and the value of its critique.
Human-robot interaction, human-robot collaboration, social robotics, Baxter