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Developing Robots as Social Companions


The University of Hertfordshire has taken the robot out of the laboratory and has it living in a house nearby as part of a study of human-robot interaction.

The study, which will be broadcast on the BBC Three Counties’ John Pilgrim Show, on Wednesday 25 January as part of a two-hour feature on the University, aims to research how humans can comfortably interact with robots.

Mick Walters, a researcher in the University’s School of Computer Science will describe the School’s work on Cogniron, a European integrated project, which aims to develop cognitive robot companions.

He will describe to John Pilgrim how computer scientists and psychologists are working to understand how groups of individuals would like robots to look and behave, whether they need to be humanoid or just a computer on wheels, and the level of closeness and eye contact they would like if they had a robot living with them.

Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn, Professor in Artificial Intelligence at the School and who is leading the University’s contribution to the project commented:

“We aim to develop personalised robot companions. Some people will want a robot with a human head and arms, while others will be more comfortable with just a technical box.

“We are studying how a robot companion can be personalized and modified according to people’s different preferences, likes and dislikes.”

It is envisaged that these robots in future could be programmed to perform tasks such as laying the table or taking the garbage out or more responsible roles such as minding children or pets.

Helene Murphy | alfa
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