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In search of a scale for human-robot interactions

George Nott | Sept. 29, 2017
QUT researcher seeking to develop a measure for our bonds with bots.

However, that might not be true for everyone, Robinson adds.

"Some people may never feel comfortable with robots, and the same with other types of technology. Some people may find robots too similar to themselves to feel comfortable around. It may go the other way, that robots are too confronting when they are made to look like people and don’t become commonplace because of this," she added.

Social robotics has become an area of intensive research in Australia. UTS’ Innovation and Enterprise Research Laboratory, the so-called ‘Magic Lab’, has recently begun exploring our interactions with androids.

Last year the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and real estate giant Stockland took delivery of Chip – a model REEM from Spain’s PAL Robotics – working with UTS and researchers from the Australian Technology Network of Universities to test people's reactions to it in the field.

A major hurdle they face is overcoming the public's perception about how advanced robotics technology really is.

"One of the biggest challenges is what people are expecting robots to be able to do, and what real robots can actually do," says Robinson.

"The robots we have now are nowhere near as sophisticated and advanced as the movie robots. Some people try to interact with robots similar to the way they would expect a movie robot or real person to interact, and can sometimes feel disappointed or confused when they don’t respond perfectly."

As a society, we will also need to consider how social robots are introduced, Robinson adds.

"We need to be careful ... and make sure it is done in a way that people find comfortable and acceptable," she said. "A big challenge in future would be people pushing robots into areas too fast and too soon, which is not appropriate or helpful for anyone."

 

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