Human social motor solutions for human-machine interaction in dynamical task contexts

Patrick Nalepka*, Maurice Lamb, Rachel W. Kallen, Kevin Shockley, Anthony Chemero, Elliot Saltzman, Michael J. Richardson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    47 Citations (Scopus)


    Multiagent activity is commonplace in everyday life and can improve the behavioral efficiency of task performance and learning. Thus, augmenting social contexts with the use of interactive virtual and robotic agents is of great interest across health, sport, and industry domains. However, the effectiveness of human-machine interaction (HMI) to effectively train humans for future social encounters depends on the ability of artificial agents to respond to human coactors in a natural, human-like manner. One way to achieve effective HMI is by developing dynamical models utilizing dynamical motor primitives (DMPs) of human multiagent coordination that not only capture the behavioral dynamics of successful human performance but also, provide a tractable control architecture for computerized agents. Previous research has demonstrated how DMPs can successfully capture human-like dynamics of simple nonsocial, single-actor movements. However, it is unclear whether DMPs can be used to model more complex multiagent task scenarios. This study tested this human-centered approach to HMI using a complex dyadic shepherding task, in which pairs of coacting agents had to work together to corral and contain small herds of virtual sheep. Human-human and human-artificial agent dyads were tested across two different task contexts. The results revealed (i) that the performance of human-human dyads was equivalent to those composed of a human and the artificial agent and (ii) that, using a "Turing-like" methodology, most participants in the HMI condition were unaware that they were working alongside an artificial agent, further validating the isomorphism of human and artificial agent behavior.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1437-1446
    Number of pages10
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2019


    • multiagent coordination
    • human–machine interaction
    • task-dynamic modeling
    • dynamical motor primitives
    • shepherding


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