Do robots creep you out?

Roboticists attempt to find out which presentation method presents the lowest barrier to communication
May 26, 2017

Which of these presentation methods make the robot look most real: live, VR, 3D TV, or 2D TV? (credit: Constanze Schreiner/University of Koblenz-Landau, Martina Mara/Ars Electronica Futuerlab, and Markus Appel/ University of Wurzburg)

How do you make humanoid robots look least creepy? With increasing use of industrial (and soon, service robots), it’s a good question.

Researchers at the University of Koblenz-Landau, University of Wurzburg, and Arts Electronica Futurelab decided to find out with an experiment. They created a skit with a human actor and the Roboy robot, and presented scripted human-robot interactions (HRIs), using four types of presentations: live, virtual reality (VR), 3D TV, and 2D TV. Participants saw Roboy assisting the human in organizing appointments, conducting web searches, and finding a birthday present for the human’s mother.

People who watched live interactions with the robot were most likely to consider the robot as real, followed by viewing the same interaction via VR. Robots presented in VR also scored high in human likeness, but lower than in the live presentation.

The researchers will present their findings at the 67th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in San Diego, CA, May 25–29, 2017.