For the past three years, a robot named Charlie has been helping an interdisciplinary team of researchers and engineers at the University of British Columbia investigate how humans and robots interact.

Standing at five feet tall, with two large arms that mimic the range of motion of a human arm, Charlie is a Willow Garage PR2 robot, and the only one in Canada.

The research team, led by mechanical engineering professor Elizabeth Croft, is exploring how robots can be incorporated into a variety of everyday scenarios, from industrial manufacturing to workplace, home and health care environments.

Croft says understanding the human-robot interaction helps inform everything from rehabilitation for ailments like stroke and hemiplegic cerebral palsy to business applications like factory production and manufacturing.