Social Robots Are Finding a Home

Social Robots

Photo Credit: steveonjava

Social robots:  What are they? How can they be used? And what are we to make of them?  In this article, social robots are touted as a new trend in robots for the home.

Some robots have often been described as possessing social qualities (see for example the tortoises developed by William Grey Walter in the 1950s), social robotics is a somewhat recent field in robotics. Since the early 1990s artificial intelligence and robotics researchers have designed and built robots to interact with humans on a social level.  Japanese researchers have done much development in social robotics, see especially work by Takayuki Kanda, Hideki Kozima, Hiroshi Ishiguro and Tomio Watanabe.

When most people think of robots, they either think of hulking Terminators or the types of dumb industrial robots taking part in a future robot uprising. But there’s another class of robot that’s also gaining traction — social robots that cost less than $1,000 and are designed for the home. They are more WALL-E than Terminator, and are meant to be personal companions and even “one of the family.”

Source: Social robots could be coming soon to a home near you

Social robots have tended to be more humanoid in many cases, but many current robots in this category do not have humanoid body shapes.  A good example is Paro.  This robot is in the body of a harp seal.  It is intended to interact with patients and to provide comfort and companionship.

There is continuing development in this area of robotics, but much is left to be done before a true social robot is available.  A social robot should be able to act autonomously in its actions towards humans and should know human rules of good service.  The social bot should interact with humans in a way that conforms to accepted social rules.

What are your thoughts on this topic?  Let me know what you think.

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