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Experimenting with Robotic Proxies in Public

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: December 17, 2013 08:28AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

It can feel like every new device being marketed to us is designed to enable us to separate ourselves from the experience of directly interacting with each other. For those that are unable to enter public places due to illness, travel limitations, or other reasons though, those devices are the best means to communicate with others. Researchers at the Universities of Exeter, Bath, and Oxford, Queen Mary University of London, and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory however are soon going to be starting a three-year project to consider how robotic proxies for public interactions may work.

The premise of a robotic proxy is straightforward enough. If you are unable to be somewhere in person, you take control of a robot and direct it where you need it to be, and speak through it to who you must talk to. While that may sound simple, it can become much more complicated when you start considering how speaking with a robot instead of a person may affect a person's behavior during a conversation. Social interactions, identities, and the spread of emotions could all be affected by using a robot instead of being there in person.

As social interaction is necessary for our well-being and robot proxies may grant some previously limited people access to public spaces, the necessity of this research is somewhat obvious. After all, you would not want to give an homebound person a robot that other people do not want to hold a conversation with.

Source: University of Exeter

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