Towards proactive human–robot collaboration: A foreseeable cognitive manufacturing paradigm

Shufei Li, Ruobing Wang, Pai Zheng, Lihui Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Human–robot collaboration (HRC) has attracted strong interests from researchers and engineers for improved operational flexibility and efficiency towards mass personalization. Nevertheless, existing HRC development mainly undertakes either human-centered or robot-centered manner reactively, where operations are conducted by following the pre-defined instructions, thus far from an efficient integration of robotic automation and human cognitions. The prevailing research on human-level information processing of cognitive computing, the industrial IoT, and robot learning creates the possibility of bridging the gap of knowledge distilling and information sharing between onsite operators, robots and other manufacturing systems. Hence, a foreseeable informatics-based cognitive manufacturing paradigm, Proactive HRC, is introduced as an advanced form of Symbiotic HRC with high-level cognitive teamwork skills to be achieved stepwise, including: (1) inter-collaboration cognition, establishing bi-directional empathy in the execution loop based on a holistic understanding of humans and robots’ situations; (2) spatio-temporal cooperation prediction, estimating human–robot–object interaction of hierarchical sub-tasks/activities over time for the proactive planning; and (3) self-organizing teamwork, converging knowledge of distributed HRC systems for self-organization learning and task allocation. Except for the description of their technical cores, the main challenges and potential opportunities are further discussed to enable the readiness towards Proactive HRC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-552
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Manufacturing Systems
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Cognitive manufacturing
  • Human–robot collaboration
  • Industrial Internet-of-Things
  • Mass personalization
  • Smart manufacturing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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