Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Research on “socially competent” robots


Robots are omnipresent in our society, and we are facing the challenge of improving their social skills, i.e. their ability to perform interpersonal interactions, to such an extent that cooperation between robots and humans can be enabled in a safe, meaningful and intuitive manner. An international consortium involving cognitive scientists from Osnabrück University has now been awarded 3.7 million euro in funding by the European Commission under the “HORIZON 2020” program to conduct research on “socially competent” robots.

The groups of researchers from Barcelona, Berlin, Hamburg, Hannover, Hatfield (UK), Osnabrück and Stockholm are going to tread completely new paths.

Die Universität Osnabrück forscht im Rahmen eines internationalen Forschungskonsortiums am Roboter mit sozialer Kompetenz.

Foto: School of Computer Science and Communication, KTH, Schweden

“In contrast to the traditional approach of social interaction as a highly complex process of partners “reading each other’s thoughts”, in this project, social perception is to be considered as a function conveyed primarily by actions and their effects. To this end, human social understanding and behavior is to be explored and implemented in robots,” Osnabrück University’s cognitive scientist Professor Dr. Peter König explained.

Current research assumes that even highly complex social interactions are grounded in basic sensorimotor behavior patterns. These “socializing Sensori-Motor Contingencies” (socSMCs) are of vital significance for perceiving the world.

The key hypothesis of the new project implies that it is crucial to learn and master these contingencies between actions and effects in order to enable efficient social interaction. These mechanisms are to be investigated in further detail in interactions between people, people with autism and robots.

“The immediate objective of this project is to transfer the research results gained to information-theoretic and neurocomputational models, in order to train humanoid robots to socially interact with humans more efficiently, and also to gain a better understanding of how socSMCs work in the human brain, thus, for example, enabling people with autism to better integrate themselves in our society,” Professor König added.

The ambitious long term vision is to develop a new socially competent robot technology that is grounded in completely novel insights into what constitutes intact social behavior and what triggers associated functional disturbances.

Such new findings will pave the way for further theories and strategies to be tested in human-robot interaction and cooperation and to finally apply them for a multitude of assistant tasks by equipping control algorithms for robots with social competencies.

Project participants:
UKE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER HAMBURG-EPPENDORF, Department of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology; Professor Dr. Andreas K. Engel - coordination
UNIVERSITAT POMPEU FABRA, Department of Information and Communication Technologies, Professor Dr. Paul F.M.J. Verschure
OSNABRÜCK UNIVERSITY, Neurobiopsychology, Professor Dr. Peter König
KUNGLIGA TEKNISKA HOEGSKOLAN, School of Computer Science and Communication, Professor Danica Kragic
GOTTFRIED WILHELM LEIBNIZ UNIVERSITÄT HANNOVER, Institute of Sports Science, Professor Dr. Alfred Effenberg
PAL ROBOTICS SL, Francesco Ferro

Additional information for the media:

Professor Dr. Peter König, Osnabrück University,
Institute of Cognitive Science,
Albrechtstraße 28, 49076 Osnabrück,
Tel.: +49 541 969 2399, Fax: +49 541 969 2596,

Dr. Utz Lederbogen | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:

More articles from Awards Funding:

nachricht Changing the Energy Landscape: Affordable Electricity for All
20.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

nachricht Emmy Noether junior research group investigates new magnetic structures for spintronics applications
11.10.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>