Embodied trust in TAS: robots, dance, different bodies

This project will explore the idea of deeply embodied trust in autonomous systems through a process of bringing expert moving bodies into harmony with robots. Working with professional dancers who have different disabilities and who may dance with assistive technologies and/or prosthetics, we will employ body-based methods, including contact improvisation and soma design (a process that allows designers to examine and improve on connections between sensation, feeling, emotion, subjective understanding and values), to examine the machine/body interface and reimagine bodily contact with robots as being creative, expressive and trustworthy rather than being harmful and a problem to be avoided. We will lay the conceptual and methodological foundations for future research into embodied trust alongside industrial and international partnerships.

Bringing perspectives from dance into the design of human-robot interaction has the potential to transform robots into more creative and aesthetic technologies, enabling new approaches with technology partners from other domains in the future, where collaboration with robots incorporates new modes of synchronising movement to address safety and ergonomics. We propose that enabling richer physical interaction with robots has the long-term potential to address the TAS grand challenge of improving people’s physical and mental well-being. Opening up a wider range of trustworthy embodied interactions from delicate touching to lifting and supporting as we intend to explore through dance, can also inform thinking about rehabilitation technologies and assistive devices.

Project dates: start May 2023 –