This study proposes to improve the reliability, robustness and human-like nature of Human–Robot Collaboration (HRC). For that, the classical Perception–Action cycle is extended to a Perception–Intention–Action (PIA) cycle, which includes an Intention stage at the same level as the Perception one, being in charge of obtaining both the implicit and the explicit intention of the human, opposing to classical approaches based on inferring everything from perception. This complete cycle is exposed theoretically including its use of the concept of Situation Awareness, which is shown as a key element for the correct understanding of the current situation and future action prediction. This enables the assignment of roles to the agents involved in a collaborative task and the building of collaborative plans. To visualize the cycle, a collaborative transportation task is used as a use-case. A force-based model is designed to combine the robot’s perception of its environment with the force exerted by the human and other factors in an illustrative way. Finally, a total of 58 volunteers participate in two rounds of experiments. In these, it is shown that the human agrees to explicitly state their intention without undue extra effort and that the human understands that this helps to minimize robot errors or misunderstandings. It is also shown that a system that correctly combines inference with explicit elicitation of the human’s intention is the best rated by the human on multiple parameters related to effective Human–Robot Interaction (HRI), such as perceived safety or trust in the robot.


humanoid robots, learning (artificial intelligence), mobile robots, PD control, social aspects of automation.

Author keywords

Physical human–robot interaction, Human–robot teaming, Human-in-the-loop, User study

Scientific reference

J.E. Domínguez, N.A. Rodríguez and A. Sanfeliu. Perception–intention–action cycle in human–robot collaborative tasks: The collaborative lightweight object transportation use-case. International Journal of Social Robotics, 2024, to appear.