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Escape from the factory of the robot monsters: agents of change

Dale Richards (Faculty of Engineering and Computing, Coventry University, Coventry, UK)

Team Performance Management

ISSN: 1352-7592

Article publication date: 14 March 2017




The increasing use of robotics within modern factories and workplaces not only sees us becoming more dependent on this technology but it also introduces innovative ways by which humans interact with complex systems. As agent-based systems become more integrated into work environments, the traditional human team becomes more integrated with agent-based automation and, in some cases, autonomous behaviours. This paper discusses these interactions in terms of team composition and how a human-agent collective can share goals via the delegation of authority between human and agent team members.


This paper highlights the increasing integration of robotics in everyday life and examines the nature of how new novel teams may be constructed with the use of intelligent systems and autonomous agents.


Areas of human factors and human-computer interaction are used to discuss the benefits and limitations of human-agent teams.

Research limitations/implications

There is little research in (human–robot) (H–R) teamwork, especially from a human factors perspective.

Practical implications

Advancing the author’s understanding of the H–R team (and associated intelligent agent systems) will assist in the integration of such systems in everyday practices.

Social implications

H–R teams hold a great deal of social and organisational issues that need further exploring. Only through understanding this context can advanced systems be fully realised.


This paper is multidisciplinary, drawing on areas of psychology, computer science, robotics and human–computer Interaction. Specific attention is given to an emerging field of autonomous software agents that are growing in use. This paper discusses the uniqueness of the human-agent teaming that results when human and agent members share a common goal within a team.



The author thanks Davide Secchi, Associate Professor of Organisational Cognition at the University of Southern Denmark, for inviting this paper after parts of this work were presented at the AISB Workshop Agent-Based Models of Bounded Rationality at University of Southern Denmark, 7-8th May 2015. The author also thanks Professor Petru Curseu for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.


Richards, D. (2017), "Escape from the factory of the robot monsters: agents of change", Team Performance Management, Vol. 23 No. 1/2, pp. 96-108.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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