Social Robotics

Researchers: Pieter Wolfert, Tony Belpaeme, in collaboration with Carlos A. Cifuentes (Colombian School of Engineering Julio Garavito), Bahar Irfan (University of Plymouth), Jelle Saldien (UGent MICT), Aduén Darriba Frederiks (UGent MICT)


Social robots are robots which interact with people using the interaction channels that people use when communicating with each other. Buttons and screen interfaces are replaced by verbal and non-verbal communication, using language, facial expressions and gestures to interact with robots in an intuitive manner.

All robots in science fiction are social robots, they all are able to understand human actions and engage with people. This is in stark contrast to most robots we see today, which remain seperated from us. Industrial robots are kept apart from people and from the safety of a cage they weld cars or fill boxed, never being aware of the richness of human activity around them. Research in social robotics aims to change that, but creating social robots is a formidable challenge.

Social interaction is possibly one of the biggest challenges in artificial intelligence and robotics. As social interaction uses all faculties of the human brain -such as memory, language, semantics, emotion- we need to create artificial equivalents of all these. The latest developments in AI and machine learning are integrated to build robots that understand and change the social world. Our goal is to build and integrate AI into physical robots to create robots that can integrate into our human-inhabeted environments.

Next to the technical aspects of building social robots, we are also interested in how we interact with robots. This study of Human-Robot Interaction uses insights and methods from related scientific fields, such as social psychology and design, to uncover how we respond to social robots. What aspects of the design of a robot help us to trust the robot? How persuasive is a robot? Can a robot help you cope with problems?

Answering these questions leads often to application of social robots. We have built social robots that act as friends for children during long-term hospitalisation, we built robots that provide therapy to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and have build robots which act as classroom assistants to teachers.

Publications

  1. Security risks of social robots used to persuade and manipulate : a proof of concept study
    Wolfert, Pieter, Deschuyteneer, Jorre, Oetringer, Djamari, Robinson, Nicole, and Belpaeme, Tony
    In HRI’20: COMPANION OF THE 2020 ACM/IEEE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON HUMAN-ROBOT INTERACTION 2020
  2. Human-robot interaction : an introduction
    Bartneck, Christoph, Belpaeme, Tony, Eyssel, Friederike, Kanda, Takayuki, Keijsers, Merel, and Šabanović, Selma
    2020
  3. Second language tutoring using social robots : a large-scale study
    Vogt, Paul, Berghe, Rianne, Haas, Mirjam, Hoffman, Laura, Kanero, Junko, Mamus, Ezgi, Montanier, Jean-Marc, Oranc, Cansu, Oudgenoeg-Paz, Ora, Garcia, Daniel Hernandez, Papadopoulos, Fotios, Schodde, Thorsten, Verhagen, Josje, Wallbridge, Christopher D., Willemsen, Bram, Wit, Jan, Belpaeme, Tony, Goksun, Tilbe, Kopp, Stefan, Krahmer, Emiel, Kuntay, Aylin C., Leseman, Paul, and Pandey, Amit Kumar
    In HRI ’19: 2019 14TH ACM/IEEE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON HUMAN-ROBOT INTERACTION 2019
  4. Teaching robots social autonomy from in situ human guidance
    Senft, Emmanuel, Lemaignan, Séverin, Baxter, Paul E., Bartlett, Madeleine, and Belpaeme, Tony
    SCIENCE ROBOTICS 2019
  5. Social robots for education : a review
    Belpaeme, Tony, Kennedy, James, Ramachandran, Aditi, Scassellati, Brian, and Tanaka, Fumihide
    SCIENCE ROBOTICS 2018