Title: Robots Made for People – Social Robots that can Make a Useful Contribution to Society
Social robots are robots that are designed in a human-centered manner to interact with people efficiently, but using socially acceptable, ‘natural’, interaction styles, so that they can operate in human environments alongside and in cooperation with people. This is the key approach of the Social and Intelligent Robotics Research Lab (SIRRL) at University of Waterloo. Such robots are different from traditional manufacturing robots which had to be fenced in to avoid injury to human workers. Social robots need to be intelligent and adaptive to work in dynamic, unpredictable, human-inhabited environments, not treating humans as ‘objects’ but as social entities. Similarly, humans will respond to interactive robots socially. Social robots come in different sizes and shapes, from humanoid to animal-like to machine like appearances, each associated to different expectations of their skills and abilities. Rising costs in domains such as healthcare, therapy, the need for supporting healthy aging, providing inclusive education, as well as the predicted next industrial revolution involving robotic co-workers (co-bots) – creates a real potential for social robots to make a significant contribution to society. My talk will outline some of the main concepts, challenges, and provide examples of research in those areas, as well as field studies of deploying social robots.
Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn is a Canada 150 Research Chair in Intelligent Robotics at the University of Waterloo. She has a joint appointment with the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Systems Design Engineering and is cross-appointed with the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. She is a visiting professor at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. At Waterloo she is the director of the Social and Intelligent Robotics Research Laboratory (SIRRL). The main areas of her research are Human-Robot Interaction, Social Robotics, Assistive Technology and Artificial Life. She is editor in chief (jointly with Professor Angelo Cangelosi - University of Manchester, UK) of the Journal Interaction Studies- Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems published by John Benjamins Publishing Company, editorial board member of Adaptive Behavior, Sage Publications, associate editor of the International Journal of Social Robotics, published by Springer, and associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems (previously IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development). She is an editor of the book series Advances in Interaction Studies, published by John Benjamins Publishing Company. Professor Dautenhahn is on the advisory board of the journal AI and Society (Springer). She is an IEEE Fellow, member of the ACM, and a Lifelong Fellow of the AISB, as well as a member of the executive board of the International Foundation for Responsible Robotics. Since 2006 she has been part of the Standing Steering Committee of the IEEE conference RO-MAN (Human and Robot Interactive Communication).