Investigating Joint-Action in Short-Cycle Repetitive Handover Tasks: The Role of Giver Versus Receiver and its Implications for Human-Robot Collaborative System Design


Human–human joint-action in short-cycle repetitive handover tasks was investigated for a bottle handover task using a three-fold approach: work-methods field studies in multiple supermarkets, simulation analysis using an ergonomics software package and by conducting an in-house lab experiment on human–human collaboration by re-creating the environment and conditions of a supermarket. Evaluation included both objective and subjective measures. Subjective evaluation was done taking a psychological perspective and showcases among other things, the differences in the way a common joint-action is being perceived by individual team partners depending upon their role (giver or receiver). The proposed approach can provide a systematic method to analyze similar tasks. Combining the results of all the three analyses, this research gives insight into the science of joint-action for short-cycle repetitive tasks and its implications for human–robot collaborative system design.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8


  1. 1.

    Sebanz N, Bekkering H, Knoblich G (2006) Joint action: bodies and minds moving together. Trends Cogn Sci 10(2):70–76

  2. 2.

    Richardson MJ, Marsh KL, Isenhower RW, Goodman JRL, Schmidt RC (2007) Rocking together: dynamics of intentional and unintentional interpersonal coordination. Hum Mov Sci 26(6):867–891

  3. 3.

    Vesper C, van der Wel RPRD, Knoblich G, Sebanz N (2011) Making oneself predictable: reduced temporal variability facilitates joint action coordination. Exp Brain Res 211(3–4):517–530

  4. 4.

    Vesper C, van der Wel RPRD, Knoblich G, Sebanz N (2013) Are you ready to jump? Predictive mechanisms in interpersonal coordination. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 39(1):48–61

  5. 5.

    Bratman M (1992) Shared cooperative activity. Philos Rev 101:327–341

  6. 6.

    Merker BH, Madison GS, Eckerdal P (2009) On the role and origin of isochrony in human rhythmic entrainment. Cortex 45(1):4–17

  7. 7.

    Keller PE (2008) Joint action in music performance. In: Enacting intersubjectivity: a cognitive and social perspective on the study of interactions, pp 205–221

  8. 8.

    Mörtl A, Lorenz T, Hirche S (2014) Rhythm patterns interaction–synchronization behavior for human-robot joint action. PLoS ONE.

  9. 9.

    Mörtl A, Lorenz T, Vlaskamp BNS, Gusrialdi A, Schubö A, Hirche S (2012) Modeling inter-human movement coordination: synchronization governs joint task dynamics. Biol Cybern 106(4–5):241–259

  10. 10.

    Clodic A, Alami R, and Chatila R (2014) Key elements for joint human–robot action. In: Sociable robots and the future of social relations proceedings of robo-philosophy, pp. 23–33

  11. 11.

    Lorenz T,Mortl A, Vlaskamp B, Schubo A Hirche S (2011) Synchronization in a goal-directed task: human movement coordination with each other and robotic partners. In: Proceedings IEEE international workshop on robot and human interactive communication, pp 198–203

  12. 12.

    Strabala K, Lee MK, Dragan A, Forlizzi J, Srinivasa SS, Cakmak M, Micelli V, Garage W (2013) Toward seamless human–robot handovers. J Hum Robot Interact 2(1):112–132

  13. 13.

    Boucher JD, Pattacini U, Lelong A, Bailly G, Elisei F, Fagel S, Dominey PF, Ventre-Dominey J (2012) I reach faster when i see you look: Gaze effects in human–human and human–robot face-to-face cooperation. Front Neurorobot. no. MAY

  14. 14.

    Huber M, Lenz C, Rickert M, Knoll A, Brandt T, Glasauer S (2008) Human preferences in industrial human–robot interactions. In: Proceedings of international workshop on cognitive technical systems

  15. 15.

    Mutlu B, Terrell A, Huang C (2013) Coordination mechanisms in human–robot collaboration. In International conference on human-robot interaction—workshop on collaborative manipulation, pp 1–6

  16. 16.

    Kozima H, Michalowski MP, Nakagawa C (2008) Keepon. Int J Soc Robot 1(1):3–18

  17. 17.

    Huang C, Cakmak M, Mutlu B (2015) Adaptive coordination strategies for human–robot handovers. In Proceedings of the 11th robotics: science and systems (RSS)

  18. 18.

    Huber M, Kupferberg A, Lenz C, Knoll A, Brandt T, Glasauer S (2013) Spatiotemporal movement planning and rapid adaptation for manual interaction. PLoS ONE.

  19. 19.

    Basili P, Huber M, Brandt T, Hirche S, Glasauer S (2009) Investigating human–human approach and hand-over. Hum Centered Robot Syst 6:151–160

  20. 20.

    Moon AJ, Troniak DM, Gleeson B, Pan MKXJ, Zeng M, Blumer BA, MacLean K, Croft EA (2014) Meet me where i’m gazing: how shared attention gaze affects human–robot handover timing. In: Proc of ACM/IEEE international conference on Human–Robot Interact, pp 334–341

  21. 21.

    Gharbi M, Paubel PV, Clodic A, Carreras O, Alami R, Cellier JM (2015) Toward a better understanding of the communication cues involved in a human–robot object transfer. In: Proceedings of IEEE international workshop on robot and human interactive communication, pp 319–324

  22. 22.

    Zheng M, AjJ Moon, Croft EA, Meng MQH (2015) Impacts of robot head gaze on robot-to-human handovers. Int J Soc Robot 7(5):783–798

  23. 23.

    Hoffman G (2013) Evaluating fluency in human–robot collaboration. In: Robotics science and systems (RSS), workshop on human robot collaboration

  24. 24.

    Eccles DW, Tenenbaum G (2004) Why an expert team is more than a team of experts: a social-cognitive conceptualization of team coordination and communication in sport. J Sport Exerc Psychol 26(4):542–560

  25. 25.

    Richardson MJ, Marsh KL, Schmidt RC (2005) Effects of visual and verbal interaction on unintentional interpersonal coordination. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 31(1):62–79

  26. 26.

    Bernardin HJ, Cooke DK, Villanova P (2000) Conscientiousness and agreeableness as predictors of rating leniency. J Appl Psychol 85(2):232–236

  27. 27.

    Neuman GA, Wright J (1999) Team effectiveness: beyond skills and cognitive ability. J Appl Psychol 84(3):376–389

  28. 28.

    Thunholm P (2004) Decision-making style: Habit, style or both? Pers Individ Dif 36(4):931–944

  29. 29.

    Keller PE, Koch I (2008) Action planning in sequential skills: relations to music performance. Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 61(2):275–291

  30. 30.

    Das P, Ribas-Xirgo L (2016) A study of time-varying cost parameter estimation methods in automated transportation systems based on mobile robots. In IEEE 21st international conference on emerging technologies and factory automation (ETFA), pp 1–4

  31. 31.

    Garg A, Hegmann K, Kapellusch J (2006) Short-cycle overhead work and shoulder girdle muscle fatigue. Int J Ind Ergon 36(6):581–597

  32. 32.

    Bosch T, Mathiassen SE, Hallman D, de Looze MP, Lyskov E, Visser B, van Dieën JH (2012) Temporal strategy and performance during a fatiguing short-cycle repetitive task. Ergonomics 55(8):863–873

  33. 33.

    Wilcox R, Nikolaidis S, Shah J (2012) Optimization of temporal dynamics for adaptive human-robot interaction in assembly manufacturing. In: Proceedings of international conference on robotics, science and systems

  34. 34.

    Moore A, Wells R (2005) Effect of cycle time and duty cycle on psychophysically determined acceptable levels in a highly repetitive task. Ergonomics 48(7):859–873

  35. 35.

    Sayfeld L, Peretz Y, Someshwar R, Edan Y (2015) Evaluation of human–robot collaboration models for fluent operations in industrial tasks. In: Robotics: science and systems conference (RSS), human–robot hand-over workshop

  36. 36.

    Someshwar R, Kerner Y (2013) Optimization of waiting time in H–R coordination. In: IEEE international conference on systems man and cybernetics

  37. 37.

    Roy S (2016) Towards robots as teammates: human–robot collaboration models for temporal coordination in human–robot teams. Ph.D. Thesis Submitt, Ben-Gurion University, Negev

  38. 38.

    Someshwar R, Meyer J, Edan Y (2012) A timing control model for H–R synchronization. IFAC Proc 45(22):698–703

  39. 39.

    Dempsey PG, Mathiassen SE, Jackson JA, O’Brien NV (2010) Influence of three principles of pacing on the temporal organisation of work during cyclic assembly and disassembly tasks. Ergonomics 53(11):1347–1358

  40. 40.

    Siemens PLM (2015) Jack 8.0.1. TX, Tecnomatix Jack, Siemens PLM Software, Plano

  41. 41.

    Blanchonette P (2010) Jack human modelling tool: a review. Sci Technol 1–37

  42. 42.

    Gordon CC, Churchill T, Clauser CE, Bradtmiller B, McConville JT, Tebbetts I, Walker R (1989) 1988 Anthropometric Survey of U.S. Army Personnel: Pilot Summary Statistics, Security

  43. 43.

    Chaffin DB, Page GB (1994) Postural effects on biomechanical and psychophysical weight-lifting limits. Ergonomics 37(4):663–676

  44. 44.

    Serfaty D, Entin EE, Johnston JH (1998) Team coordination training. In: Making decisions under stress: implications for individual and team training, pp 221–245

  45. 45.

    Galati A, Avraamides MN (2013) Flexible spatial perspective-taking: conversational partners weigh multiple cues in collaborative tasks. Front Hum Neurosci 7:618

  46. 46.

    van der Wel RPRD (2015) Me and we: metacognition and performance evaluation of joint actions. Cognition 140:49–59

  47. 47.

    Haaijer R, Wedel M (2001) Habit persistence in time series models of discrete choice. Mark Lett 12(1):25–35

  48. 48.

    Dynan KE (2000) Habit formation in consumer preferences: evidence from panel data. Am Econ Rev 90(3):391–406

  49. 49.

    Rosenbaum DA, Loukopoulos LD, Vaughan J, Engelbrecht SE (1995) Planning reaches by evaluating stored postures. Psychol Rev 102(1):28–67

  50. 50.

    Rosenbaum DA, Meulenbroek RJ, Vaughan J, Jansen C, Rosenbaum DA (2001) Posture-based motion planning: applications to grasping. Psychol Rev 108(4):709–734

  51. 51.

    Knoblich G, Butterfill S, Sebanz N (2011) Psychological research on joint action: theory and data. Psychol Learn Motiv Adv Res Theory 54:59–101

  52. 52.

    Swinnen SP, Wenderoth N (2004) Two hands, one brain: cognitive neuroscience of bimanual skill. Trends Cogn Sci 8(1):18–25

  53. 53.

    Sherwood DE (1994) Hand preference, practice order, and spatial assimilations in rapid bimanual movement. J Mot Behav 26(2):123–143

  54. 54.

    Haken H, JaS Kelso, Bunz H (1985) A theoretical model of phase transitions in human hand movements. Biol Cybern 51:347–356

  55. 55.

    Cohen L (1971) Synchronous bimanual movements performed by homologous and non-homologous muscles. Percept Mot Skills 32:639–644

  56. 56.

    Sanabria D, Capizzi M, Correa A (2011) Rhythms that speed you up. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 37(1):236–44

  57. 57.

    Rosenbaum DA, Marchak F, Barnes HJ, Vaughan J, Slotta JD, Jorgensen MJ (1990) Constraints for action selection: overhand versus underhand grips. Atten Perform XIII:321–342

  58. 58.

    Rosenbaum DA, Van Heugten CM, Caldwell GE (1996) From cognition to biomechanics and back: the end-state comfort effect and the middle-is-faster effect. Acta Psychol (Amst) 94(1):59–85

  59. 59.

    Cohen R, Rosenbaum D (2004) Where grasps are made reveals how grasps are planned: generation and recall of motor plans. Exp Brain Res 157(4):486–495

  60. 60.

    Meyer M, Van Der Wel RPRD, Hunnius S (2013) Higher-order action planning for individual and joint object manipulations. Exp Brain Res 225(4):579–588

  61. 61.

    Herbort O, Koning A, van Uem J, Meulenbroek RGJ (2012) The end-state comfort effect facilitates joint action. Acta Psychol (Amst) 139(3):404–416

  62. 62.

    Kupcsik A, Hsu D, Lee WS (2015) Learning dynamic robot-to-human object handover from human feedback. In: Proceedings of international symposium on robotics reserach, pp 1–11

  63. 63.

    Nikolaidis S, Hsu D, Srinivasa S (2017) Human–robot mutual adaptation in collaborative tasks: models and experiments. Int J Rob Res 36(5–7):618–634

  64. 64.

    Sun Y, Sundar SS (2016) Psychological importance of human agency. In: International conference on human–robot interaction, pp 189–196

Download references


This research was supported by the EU funded Initial Training Network (ITN) in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) People Programme (FP7): INTRO (INTeractive RObotics research network), Grant agreement Number: 238486 research project and partially supported by the Helmsley Charitable Trust through the Agricultural, Biological and Cognitive Robotics Initiative, the Marcus Endowment Fund and the Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut Chair in Manufacturing Engineering, all at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). The authors acknowledge their thanks to the contributions of Netta Ben Zeev, Michael Kozak, Polina Kurtser from BGU and especially to Prof. Guy Madison from Umea University, Sweden who introduced the authors to the research in rhythmic joint-action in human which led to this study. Sincere thanks also go to the anonymous reviewers who have given immensely valuable feedback.

Author information

Correspondence to Someshwar Roy.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (mp4 39920 KB)

Supplementary material 2 (mp4 35332 KB)

Supplementary material 1 (mp4 39920 KB)

Supplementary material 2 (mp4 35332 KB)

Supplementary material 3 (pdf 277 KB)



See Table 4.

Table 4 Some of the questions with subjects’ responses from the questionnaire used in the experiment

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Roy, S., Edan, Y. Investigating Joint-Action in Short-Cycle Repetitive Handover Tasks: The Role of Giver Versus Receiver and its Implications for Human-Robot Collaborative System Design. Int J of Soc Robotics (2018).

Download citation


  • Joint action
  • Human robot collaboration
  • Human robot handover
  • Designing cobots
  • Human factors in Robotics
  • Warehouse robots
  • Supermarket robot
  • User Experience (UX)
  • Human human handover