Thursday, June 22, 2006

Robots That Know Your Attitude

Engineers at Vanderbilt University's Robots and Autonomous Systems Laboratory are making robots easier to work with by empowering them with emotional sensors.
The robots will measure the emotional state of the human co-worker and adjust their behavior accordingly.
Look, Dave, I can see you're really upset about this...I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over...

Mood measurements could include sensors for heart rate variability, brainwaves, skin conductance, respiration, muscle tension, blood pressure and temperature.

The research team called Affect Sensitive Human-Robot Collaboration is studying the details of how to measure the human feelings and how to feed it back to the robots.

So how will the humans know the mood of the robot? Maybe from their tone of voice?

The problem of robot-human relations also came up recently in a keynote address by Maj. Gen. Charles Cartwright, program manager for the U.S. Army's Future Combat Systems, at the RoboBusiness Conference in Pittsburgh.
The US military has more than 10,000 robots on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan but they are reluctant to arm them. The robots do not have the skills to judge how to use firearms safely. They do not seem to understand the difference between friend or foe. Today the robots are all controlled by human puppetmasters.
"How do you put ground robots and people together in the same environment? How do you know you're there and how can you do it safely?" Cartwright asks.

Department of Mechanical Engineering - Vanderbilt University School of Engineering


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