RBE 420X – Human Factors and Human-Robot Interface


Zhi Jane Li

Office: 85 Prescott 223C

Email: zli11 [at] wpi.edu

Time & Location: Wed & Friday, 10:00-11:50 am

Office Hour: Wednesday, 2:00-3:00 pm at Instructor’s office


This is an introductory course on human-robot interaction, offered to junior and senior undergraduate students. It will introduce (1) the behavior and preference of human motor control and motor learning, and (2) how they influence the design of human-robot interface and the dynamics of human-robot interaction. Students will also learn how to conduct experimental studies to design and evaluate the technological and social impacts of human-robot interfaces. Students in this course will work on interdisciplinary projects, which may involve working with experts in robotics, social science, nursing, and education. 

This course is designed under the scope of the NSF-sponsored Future of Robots in the Workplace – Research & Development (FORW-RD) Program at WPI (https://wp.wpi.edu/forwrd/), which aims to provide comprehensive, multi-disciplinary training on the Robotic Interfaces and Assistants for the Future of Work. To this end, this course will make an effort to bridge the gap between human movement science and human-robot interaction, and to inspire the human-robot interfaces for co-robot systems and their workers. In addition to supporting the training of graduate students of the FORW-RD program, this course also aims to serve as the introductory course on human-robot interaction for junior and senior undergraduate students. Specifically, this course will 1) offer concrete examples of interface design and evaluation from the state-of-the-art human-robot interaction research, and 2) provide rich hands-on experience on conducting human factor experiments and human-robot interface evaluation, in order to prepare the students for the graduate-level human-robot interaction course (RBE/CS 526), which focuses on the more advanced topics of computational human-robot interaction

Recommended background:

Junior or Senior standing with backgrounds in Robotics Engineering, Biomechanical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Social Science.  

Reference book:

  • Lehto, Mark R., and Steven J. Landry. Introduction to human factors and ergonomics for engineers. Crc Press, 2012. [PDF available online].
  • Siciliano, Bruno, and Oussama Khatib, eds. Springer handbook of robotics. Springer, 2016. [Available online through WPI library]
  • Thomaz, Andrea, Guy Hoffman, and Maya Cakmak. “Computational human-robot interaction.” Foundations and Trends in Robotics 4, no. 2-3 (2016): 105-223. [PDF available online

Course Schedule, Syllabus & Reading List:


Course Offered:

  • Spring 2022 (C term)