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Children Beating ­p Robot Inspires New Escape Maneuver System

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Children abusing a social robot.

Japanese researchers experimenting with social interactions with a robot in a mall found children were frequently hostile toward the robot.

Credit: ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories

An experiment by Japanese researchers to see how mall patrons would react to a social robot turned up a surprising finding: the not infrequent hostility of children toward the robot.

Researchers from ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories, Osaka University, Ryukoku University, and Tokai University patrolled a mall in Osaka with a remotely operated Robovie 2 robot. When someone obstructed the robots path, it would politely ask them to step aside, and would move away if they failed to do so. Although adults frequently complied with the robot's requests, the researchers found children, especially if they were in groups and there were no adults nearby, would not. Some children actively tried to frustrate the robot's movements or even attacked the robot, punching and kicking it or throwing objects at it.

To counter this hostility, the researchers developed an abuse-evading algorithm that would model the likelihood an individual would become hostile. Children (anyone shorter than 4 feet 6 inches) were judged to be more likely to be hostile, especially if in unsupervised groups. If it encountered such a situation, the robot would try to move toward a taller person or a more crowded area.

The research was presented at the 2015 10th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction in Portland, OR.

From IEEE Spectrum
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Abstracts Copyright © 2015 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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