Horizon Blog

Robots Mediating Interaction – halfway point

Our project is looking at the role of cobots in mediating interaction. Cobots are distinct from robots in that they are designed as ‘collaborative’ and exist alongside those working with them, as opposed to being ‘caged off’ for safety.

We are exploring in a limited way, how service robots are used in mediating interactions between people, how ‘trustworthy’ people find those interactions and how they collaborate, to achieve a complicated task.

The Cobot Maker Space at the University of Nottingham is providing an ideal testing environment for us to both develop and deliver a Wizard of Oz (WoZ) platform – which will benefit other users of the space wanting to do research with service robots. Members of our team have contributed to earlier research related to WoZ.

Inspired by the idea of ‘water spiders’ in modern (‘lean’) factory environments – people who select parts and transport them to other workers – we are now working out how to do the following:

a) Build an adequate WoZ platform to drive Robin – a basic service robot – for the purposes of a collaborative task. Robin has movement, speech, facial recognition, and gestural capabilities which we will be leveraging for our WoZ interface.


b) Design an experiment with two teams where they have to collaboratively construct a simple LEGO model – a separated Parts Team and Assembly Team who coordinate the building via Robin. The purpose of this experiment is to explore how these collaborative activities take place, for example, how is the cobot perceived and how Wizard(s) achieve a ‘reasonable’ simulation of cobot activities.

Written by Stuart Reeves

The Robots Mediating Interaction project sits within Horizon’s Agile programme



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