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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Multitasking in a human factors context refers to a human managing a number of serial activities that are sufficiently complex that they require different sets of cognitive resources. By this definition, managing even a single robot requires multitasking, and managing multiple robots significantly increases complexity. Recent research in human-robot interaction has focused on finding the maximum number of robots that a single human can manage, often referred to as maximizing fan-out or span of control. This chapter puts the fan-out problem in historical context, relating it to prior human factors research on supervisory control of multiple tasks. The chapter then addresses factors from modern robotics that differ from prior multitasking work and identifies state-of-the art approaches for maximizing fan-out. Finally, the chapter presents some emerging approaches that have potential to improve multi-robot management.

Keywords: human-robot interaction, fan-out, span of control, supervisory control

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