Computer Science

News and events

11 February 2015

The Many Faces of Social Robotics Research: Using Robots as a Tool to Understand and Model Human Skills and Behaviours

Presented By Dr Maha Salem, Research Fellow, University of Hertfordshire
  • 1.00pm
  • N.1.12, Haslegrave Building

About this event

Abstract: Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) and Social Robotics are rapidly evolving, interdisciplinary research areas in which scientists aim to develop robotic systems that can support and interact with people. My research focuses on the design and evaluation of robot companions that do not only provide assistance to users, but which can also be used as a means to understand and model human skills and behaviours. In this context, three specific research areas have been of particular interest to me which I will introduce briefly in my talk, illustrating the many-sided nature of this field. First, as part of my PhD project, I focused on the generation and evaluation of humanlike communicative behaviours such as speech-accompanying hand and arm gestures for a humanoid robot. In order to model and realise such multimodal behaviours on a robot, it is necessary to thoroughly study and understand how humans generate expressive behaviours themselves and, moreover, how they perceive them when performed by others. My second and more recent research interest evolves around cultural differences between humans interacting with a robotic assistant. Specifically, by conducting an extensive HRI study, I investigated how expectations and experiences of English native speakers compare to those of Arab native speakers when interacting with a bilingual receptionist robot. Finally, my current research project focuses on the design and evaluation of safe and trustworthy robotic assistants that are intended to help people in domestic environments. Core questions of this research investigate the factors that may affect how humans perceive and the extent to which they are willing to ‘trust’ a robotic home assistant based on its exhibited cognitive and behavioural skills. The talk will outline the challenges encountered in each of these research domains as well as the lessons learnt and resulting implications for the field of Human-Robot Interaction. Building on the presented research examples, I will highlight why Social Robotics research offers an intriguing and multifaceted tool to apprehend and appreciate what it means to be human.