Multi-disciplinary team to use advanced robotics platforms to measure human-robot interactions

Published on December 12, 2013 at 6:07 AM · No Comments

Psychologists from the University of Exeter are leading a major project looking at how robots can enable people to interact in public spaces - without actually being there.

The -2 million three-year project, Being There: Humans and Robots in Public Spaces, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will examine how robotics can help to bridge the gap between the way we communicate in person and online.

It brings together researchers from the Universities of Exeter, Bath and Oxford, Queen Mary University of London and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) to look at the social and technological aspects of being able to appear in public in proxy forms, via a range of advanced robotics platforms. The BRL is a collaborative partnership between the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol.

The research team will be using an advanced programmable humanoid robot, called 'Nao,' that they will take into public spaces around Bristol and Bath to measure human interaction with robots.

Nao will be controlled remotely and its controllers will be able to see and speak through its eyes and mouth, while directing where it looks and walks.

The project aims to enhance the public realm as a space where people can interact under conditions of privacy and equality, where the social benefits of being with other people are maximised, and barriers to being in public spaces are reduced.

Professor Mark Levine of the University of Exeter said: "Being able to interact with others in public space plays an important role in the well-being of individuals and societies. Sadly, many people are unable to do this - because they are ill, housebound or unable to travel. However, if a robot proxy can act for them - and can transmit back the full experience of being with others - we can help to reduce social isolation and increase civic participation.

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