EASIER – Enabling and Assessing Trust when Cooperating with Robots in Disaster Response

Assistance robots can support emergency forces in crisis situations. The robots can be used to obtain information or manipulate dangerous objects. Fully autonomous systems, however, are currently not feasible neither in terms of acceptance by emergency forces nor in terms of the state of the art. Thus, the project EASIER focuses on semi-autonomous robot systems, where the levels of autonomy in the cooperation of operators and robots can be adapted. In this context, trust in the assistance system is of utmost importance. In addition to trust in the robotic system, the cognitive load caused by the use of the system is also crucial for its acceptance. In this regard, the project aims to develop sound and field-ready methods for measuring trust in assistance systems and the cognitive load caused by their use. Furthermore, the following robot-related factors will be investigated with respect to their influence on trust: (1) the user interface for entering control commands and outputting task-specific information, (2) the level of autonomy between operator and robot, and (3) a transparency module that presents decisions of the assistance system to the operator in an intuitive way. In order for these factors to be utilized, significant further developments in these areas are required. To achieve significant results for the influence on trust and cognitive load, the developments of these components are supported by experimental investigations with responders in realistic operational scenarios. Mobile manipulation for crisis situations is being considered as the application scenario. The primary innovation of the project is to investigate in depth the measurement of trust and cognitive load, as well as measures to improve them, in an interdisciplinary team (psychologists, visualization experts, computer scientists, roboticists, field operators). The planned direct coupling of the assessment of trust and cognitive load with possible changes in interaction design, autonomy management, and transparency of the robot will provide new insights into the nature of trust in assistant robots and enable the development of improved support systems. During the course of the project, field tests are planned in which the measures for improving trust will be systematically evaluated and the implemented robot assistance functions will be tested in practice. In this way, the presented project makes a significant contribution to achieving the objectives of the tender.

Team :


  • Bettina Kubicek (UniGraz EASIER Lead)
  • Clemens Koenczoel


Duration: 01.11.2021 — 31.10.2023 (24 Month)

Funding: Supported by KIRAS Security Research, FFG Grant No. FO999886357

  • Total Budget: € 440.978,00
  • Total Funding: € 341.483,00
  • CSS Funding: € 37.955,58

FFG Project Page: https://projekte.ffg.at/projekt/4101166