Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.



Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (M.S.M.E.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The goal of this thesis is to enable a robot to actively collaborate with a person to move an object in an efficient, smooth and robust manner. For a robot to actively assist a person it is key that the robot recognizes the actions or phases of a collaborative tasks. This requires the robot to have the ability to estimate a person’s movement intent. A hurdle in collaboratively moving an object is determining whether the partner is trying to rotate or translate the object (the rotation versus translation problem). In this thesis, Hidden Markov Models (HMM) are used to recognize human intent of rotation or translation in real-time. Based on this recognition, an appropriate impedance control mode is selected to assist the person. The approach is tested on a seven degree-of-freedom industrial robot, KUKA LBR iiwa 14 R820, working with a human partner during manipulation tasks. Results show the HMMs can estimate human intent with accuracy of 87.5% by using only haptic data recorded from the robot. Integrated with impedance control, the robot is able to collaborate smoothly and efficiently with a person during the manipulation tasks. The HMMs are compared with a switching function based approach that uses interaction force magnitudes to recognize rotation versus translation. The results show that HMMs can predict correctly when fast rotation or slow translation is desired, whereas the switching function based on force magnitudes performs poorly.


First Advisor

Frank C Sup