Humanoid Robot, Stories, Travel

Humanoid Robots at Osaka

Visit to Robotics Research Labs at Osaka


Nigel Crook, James Balkwill, and Matthias Rolf visited Osaka University, Japan, in order to establish collaborations in the area of robotics. The team visited the Labs of Prof. Asada (co-founder of the RoboCup soccer), Prof. Hosoda, and Prof. Ishiguro (who famously built an android version of himself, see picture). Topics of discussion included human-robot interactions, robot ethics, and actuator design.

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Humanoid Robot, Stories

Robot body pose mirroring

Fig 1. Experimental room setup

Have you ever caught yourself copying or mirroring the body pose of someone you are in conversation with or noticed that others are copying your body pose? 

What’s that all about? It is well known that this body-pose mirroring is a natural and often subconscious social behaviour that can build rapport, increase empathy and facilitate social interaction. So, if we wanted to build rapport, increase empathy and facilitate social interaction between a robot and a person, then body pose mirroring might be worth investigating.

There have been a number of recent studies that have evaluated the influence of a robot’s non-verbal behaviour on the way humans perceive and interact with them. We recently completed one small study which investigated the effect that upper body mimicry has on how people perceive robots. We did by inviting people to a face-to-face interaction with a Nao robot (Fig 1) and then asking them to complete a questionnaire (GODSPEED). We found that when the robot was mirroring the participants’ upper body pose, the participants rated the robot’s humanness more highly and seemed to experience greater empathy with the robot. 

More details of this study can be found here.

Fuente, L.A., Ierardi, H., Pilling, M. and Crook, N.T., 2015, October. Influence of upper body pose mirroring in human-robot interaction. In International Conference on Social Robotics (pp. 214-223). Springer, Cham.

Fig 2 Some robot body poses


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Moral Machines, Stories, Travel

Discussion on robot ethics

Visit to Technische Universität Braunschweig

Prof Crook and Dr Rolf visit Prof Jochen Steil at Technische Universität Braunschweig

On the 24th January Prof Nigel Crook and Dr Matthias Rolf travelled to meet Prof Dr Jochen Steil at the Institute for Robotics and Process Control, Technische Universität Braunschweig. The purpose of the visit was to continue our discussions on how we  can develop robots with moral competence. We are seeking inspiration from how children at an early age begin to follow social norms within their family circle.

During our visit we were treated to a tour of the robotics lab – Photos below.






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