Can robots and humans coexist? That’s what Texas researchers are trying to find out.
- February 11, 2023
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Texas program studies human-robot interactions
Texas program studies human-robot interactions 02:35
Austin, Texas – When the four-legged robots roam the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, they get all the attention. You are part of a groundbreaking scientific and social experiment from the school’s robotics program.
The experiment tries to see how the programmable robots interact with non-programmable humans.
“The spin we’re giving here is that we’re not that interested in having a one-to-one interaction with that particular human,” said engineer Luis Sentis. “We are interested in interacting with the community.”
The first task is to stroll through busy walkways that will deliver disinfectants and wipes. Soon the robots could be able to communicate by giving directions and even tours. But the researchers won’t just watch the robots.
“We both look at each other [humans and robots]’ said social scientist Keri Stephens. “We’re more interested in the interactions and what we can learn from the reactions of groups of people when they see the robots. And that then gives us a lot of feedback on how we might need to adjust the robots to make people feel more comfortable around them.”
Comfort is the keyword. Using special cameras, the study will examine every human reaction – from body language and facial expressions to the way they walk around the machines.
“What would an everyday robot look like if you interacted with it every day? And that robot has to be handy to be around,” said computer science professor Justin Hart.
Just walking Spot, the most popular of the robots, will collect data that scientists hope will make the five-year study a success as robotics and artificial intelligence become more integrated into everyday life.
“As I take these things out into the wild, I expect to make many, many discoveries about how humans actually accomplish things and how those interfaces actually work,” Hart said.
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