New study measures human-robot relations

September 18, 2017 by Debra Nowland, Queensland University of Technology
QUT researcher Nicole Robinson with Andy the robot. Credit: Queensland University of Technology

A QUT researcher is leading a new study to evaluate human-robot interactions as technology reshapes health care.

The Faculty of Health's Nicole Robinson (view video below) is a PhD student investigating how relate to robots by presenting a scenario to determine what, if any, connection is formed.

The aim of the study is to design a psychometric scale to enhance understanding of human-robot interactions and find out if people feel comfortable and ready to bond with a .

"We want to better understand human-robot interactions and how people might respond to social robots that want to do things for people, such as help with a task or talk to them about a problem," she said.

Currently, there are limited ways to evaluate the direct effect of a , making it difficult to assess their potential and real impact on people.

The research may lead to a new way to rate and classify human-robot connections, particularly as robots begin to integrate into the public in near future.

"Social robots are starting to emerge in areas such as education and healthcare. We want to understand people's reactions, thoughts and feelings about social robots that may interact with them in future," she said.

Credit: Queensland University of Technology

Participants are asked to watch a two-minute video of a robot and a person discussing a topic.

They are asked to answer questions, such as what they thought and felt about the interaction from the robot in the video.

The questionnaire takes up to 10 minutes to complete and participants do not need to interact with a real robot to take part in the research.

"The creation of a psychometric scale to evaluate a human-robot interaction could have wide individual and industry application, such as finding out how people react to an interaction with a health, tutor or worker robot in their environment or workplace," she said.

"The opinions and perspectives from the general public on this topic will help us to discover how we could develop a 's task, role or behaviour to make it more acceptable and functional to use for people.

"We want to understand how to best move forward, if at all, with the use of social robots in society."

Explore further: Designing soft robots: Ethics-based guidelines for human-robot interactions

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