Affect-aware and empathic robots: closing the affective loop in social human-robot interaction
Dr. Ginevra Castellano, University of Birmingham
Recent research on personal robots shows that robots are increasingly being studied as partners that collaborate and do things with people. Robot companions, for example, are envisioned to play an important role in several applications, such as providing assistance for the elderly at home, serving as tutors for children by enriching their learning experiences, acting as therapeutic tools for children with autism or as game buddies for entertainment purposes. Social perceptive abilities are amongst the most important skills necessary for these robots to engage humans in natural forms of interaction. These include affect sensitivity, that is, the ability to recognise people’s affective expressions and states, understand their social signals, and account for the context in which the interaction with the robot takes place. Affect sensitive robots are more likely to be able to establish and maintain believable interactions over extended periods of time, and to adapt to users in a more personalised and empathic way. Nevertheless, the integration of affect recognition frameworks in real-time human-robot interaction scenarios is still underexplored. This talk will provide an overview of the state of the art on affect sensitive and empathic robots. It will explore some of the issues arising from the design of affect sensitive and empathic robotic companions and their evaluation with users in real world environments.