In the not-so-distant future androids may as well walk among us, considering the advancements scientists make in creating robots that have both a human-like physical appearance and swift movement patterns.
Researchers from Georgia Tech’s College of Computing believe that people are able to intuit easier what robots are doing if the movement patterns of the latter are smoother. Hence, the way the robot moves is not the only aspect covered in this research project. As the movements flow cursively, we can now talk of a real body language.
The research project involved people who had to observe the body language of the robot and figure out what it is doing. Ph.D. student Michael Gielniak declared: “When the motion was more human-like, human beings were able to watch the motion and perceive what the robot was doing more easily.” For example, the robot was programmed to move a box from one place to the other, but as the box was missing people had to guess the action based solely on the body language of the robot. The fact that motions are easier to recognize and label when they are smoother leads to an interaction of a higher degree.
Andrea Thomaz, assistant professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech’s College of Computing, stated that robots that have a more natural behavior are easier to understand and easier to interact with. The robot used for this research project may not have the most human-like physical appearance, but the main point is that other robots can be programmed to move this way.
The behavior of the robot can be furthermore optimized, so that each action is customized depending on the human being the robot interacts with. Till this moment, people perceived robots as machines that move mechanically, using stop and go patterns. This is about to change, as robots will soon be able to interact differently with each human being.