Special Issue "Advances in Social Robots"

A special issue of Information (ISSN 2078-2489). This special issue belongs to the section "Information Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Filippo Vella
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
National Research Council of Italy—ICAR—Institute for High Performance Computing and Networks, Rende (CS), Italy
Interests: robotics; computer vision; computational creativity

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The examples of robotic systems that are available nowadays show automatic systems that perform tasks with a low level of complexity, engaging in dialogue when replying to simple questions and may exploit, with limited awareness, their embodiment.

New technologies demonstrate the possibility to increase the capability of autonomous systems, enabling machines to integrate and collaborate with people in a natural and comfortable way. To process the vast wealth of information that a cyberphysical system receives, effective solutions have to be conceived. Sources of information include sensors that capture information about the environment to act and properly detect the effect of the actions of such systems; cameras acquiring information mainly oriented for human–robot interaction; and body sensors describing the status of the parts composing the robot itself. The proper filtering and processing of relevant information require multiple tasks that cooperate while they act independently. The desired capabilities of social robots range from cognitive processes, problem-solving capability, managing emotions, creativity, and smooth interactions with humans while abiding by ethical rules.

The new and challenging possibilities of robotic companions in society hinge on the proposal and actuation of new, brave, and in some cases, disruptive, solutions in the field of providing the autonomy to act, a deeper understanding of the environment and the interactions with the other actors, and a proactiveness in the tasks to be executed.

This Special Issue on Social Robotics is aimed at academic and industrial researchers who are applying new methods to solve the challenges in the field. The key areas of this Special Issue include, but are not limited to:

cognitive architectures; robot localization and mapping; ethics in robotics; planning; robot awareness; robot cooperation; affective computing; rehabilitation robots; robot therapy; surgical assistants; biologically inspired robotics; deep learning for robotics; intelligent environment

Dr. Filippo Vella
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Information is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • human–robot interaction
  • humanoid robots
  • robot therapy
  • awareness
  • affective computing
  • human–computer interaction
  • cognitive architectures
  • service robot

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Do Not Let the Robot Get too Close: Investigating the Shape and Size of Shared Interaction Space for Two People in a Conversation
Information 2020, 11(3), 147; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/info11030147 - 06 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1462
Abstract
Robotic and other autonomous systems that need to operate in environments with people should respect social rules. One important aspect of this is personal space, which is the space surrounding a person. When two people are in a conversation, they position themselves such [...] Read more.
Robotic and other autonomous systems that need to operate in environments with people should respect social rules. One important aspect of this is personal space, which is the space surrounding a person. When two people are in a conversation, they position themselves such that a so-called shared interaction space is created in the middle of them. The aim of the current research was to experimentally investigate the shape and size of this shared interaction space in different formations. In three experiments, we had a robot approaching two people who were having a conversation from 5 different directions, and those people indicated what would be a comfortable distance for the robot to stop. We expected that people would take the personal space of their conversation partner into account when stopping the robot. Findings of the three studies mostly confirm this expectation. Apart from some exceptions, people tend to stop the robot at a similar distance from their conversation partner as from themselves. If these findings are applied in the behavior of robotic and other autonomous systems, people would be more likely to trust and later accept robots in their physical space, ultimately creating natural social interactions between humans and robots. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Social Robots)
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Article
How Much Information Does a Robot Need? Exploring the Benefits of Increased Sensory Range in a Simulated Crowd Navigation Task
Information 2020, 11(2), 112; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/info11020112 - 18 Feb 2020
Viewed by 1094
Abstract
Perfect information about an environment allows a robot to plan its actions optimally, but often requires significant investments into sensors and possibly infrastructure. In applications relevant to human–robot interaction, the environment is by definition dynamic and events close to the robot may be [...] Read more.
Perfect information about an environment allows a robot to plan its actions optimally, but often requires significant investments into sensors and possibly infrastructure. In applications relevant to human–robot interaction, the environment is by definition dynamic and events close to the robot may be more relevant than distal ones. This suggests a non-trivial relationship between sensory sophistication on one hand, and task performance on the other. In this paper, we investigate this relationship in a simulated crowd navigation task. We use three different environments with unique characteristics that a crowd navigating robot might encounter and explore how the robot’s sensor range correlates with performance in the navigation task. We find diminishing returns of increased range in our particular case, suggesting that task performance and sensory sophistication might follow non-trivial relationships and that increased sophistication on the sensor side does not necessarily equal a corresponding increase in performance. Although this result is a simple proof of concept, it illustrates the benefit of exploring the consequences of different hardware designs—rather than merely algorithmic choices—in simulation first. We also find surprisingly good performance in the navigation task, including a low number of collisions with simulated human agents, using a relatively simple A*/NavMesh-based navigation strategy, which suggests that navigation strategies for robots in crowds need not always be sophisticated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Social Robots)
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Article
Requirements for Robotic Interpretation of Social Signals “in the Wild”: Insights from Diagnostic Criteria of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Information 2020, 11(2), 81; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/info11020081 - 01 Feb 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1309
Abstract
The last few decades have seen widespread advances in technological means to characterise observable aspects of human behaviour such as gaze or posture. Among others, these developments have also led to significant advances in social robotics. At the same time, however, social robots [...] Read more.
The last few decades have seen widespread advances in technological means to characterise observable aspects of human behaviour such as gaze or posture. Among others, these developments have also led to significant advances in social robotics. At the same time, however, social robots are still largely evaluated in idealised or laboratory conditions, and it remains unclear whether the technological progress is sufficient to let such robots move “into the wild”. In this paper, we characterise the problems that a social robot in the real world may face, and review the technological state of the art in terms of addressing these. We do this by considering what it would entail to automate the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Just as for social robotics, ASD diagnosis fundamentally requires the ability to characterise human behaviour from observable aspects. However, therapists provide clear criteria regarding what to look for. As such, ASD diagnosis is a situation that is both relevant to real-world social robotics and comes with clear metrics. Overall, we demonstrate that even with relatively clear therapist-provided criteria and current technological progress, the need to interpret covert behaviour cannot yet be fully addressed. Our discussions have clear implications for ASD diagnosis, but also for social robotics more generally. For ASD diagnosis, we provide a classification of criteria based on whether or not they depend on covert information and highlight present-day possibilities for supporting therapists in diagnosis through technological means. For social robotics, we highlight the fundamental role of covert behaviour, show that the current state-of-the-art is unable to characterise this, and emphasise that future research should tackle this explicitly in realistic settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Social Robots)
Article
A Revision of the Buechner–Tavani Model of Digital Trust and a Philosophical Problem It Raises for Social Robotics
Information 2020, 11(1), 48; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/info11010048 - 16 Jan 2020
Viewed by 868
Abstract
In this paper the Buechner–Tavani model of digital trust is revised—new conditions for self-trust are incorporated into the model. These new conditions raise several philosophical problems concerning the idea of a substantial self for social robotics, which are closely examined. I conclude that [...] Read more.
In this paper the Buechner–Tavani model of digital trust is revised—new conditions for self-trust are incorporated into the model. These new conditions raise several philosophical problems concerning the idea of a substantial self for social robotics, which are closely examined. I conclude that reductionism about the self is incompatible with, while the idea of a substantial self is compatible with, trust relations between human agents, between human agents and artificial agents, and between artificial agents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Social Robots)

Review

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Review
A Systematic Review of Robotics Research in Support of In-Home Care for Older Adults
Information 2020, 11(2), 75; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/info11020075 - 30 Jan 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2331
Abstract
The aging population is growing at an unprecedented rate globally and robotics-enabled solutions are being developed to provide better independent living for older adults. In this study, we report the results from a systematic review of the state-of-the-art in home robotics research for [...] Read more.
The aging population is growing at an unprecedented rate globally and robotics-enabled solutions are being developed to provide better independent living for older adults. In this study, we report the results from a systematic review of the state-of-the-art in home robotics research for caring for older adults. This review aims to address two questions: (1) What research is being done towards integrating robotics for caring for older adults? (2) What are the research and technology challenges that robots are facing in the home? Sixty-three papers have been identified and studied in this review by following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Common themes that are consistent across the reviewed papers are distinguished and consolidated as follows: (1) Ambient assisted living, where smart home environments and physical support tools are studied; (2) Robot ecosystem, where robotic devices are used to provide various services; (3) Social interaction, where the social isolation problem has been targeted. We also summarize the results of similar literature reviews we came across during our search. The results of this study present the current research trends and technologies used in each category. The challenges and limitations of robotics applications are also identified. Suggestions for accelerating the deployment of robots at home for providing older adults with independent care in the home are presented based on the results and insights from this study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Social Robots)
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Review
What Makes a Social Robot Good at Interacting with Humans?
Information 2020, 11(1), 43; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/info11010043 - 13 Jan 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2101
Abstract
This paper discusses the nuances of a social robot, how and why social robots are becoming increasingly significant, and what they are currently being used for. This paper also reflects on the current design of social robots as a means of interaction with [...] Read more.
This paper discusses the nuances of a social robot, how and why social robots are becoming increasingly significant, and what they are currently being used for. This paper also reflects on the current design of social robots as a means of interaction with humans and also reports potential solutions about several important questions around the futuristic design of these robots. The specific questions explored in this paper are: “Do social robots need to look like living creatures that already exist in the world for humans to interact well with them?”; “Do social robots need to have animated faces for humans to interact well with them?”; “Do social robots need to have the ability to speak a coherent human language for humans to interact well with them?” and “Do social robots need to have the capability to make physical gestures for humans to interact well with them?”. This paper reviews both verbal as well as nonverbal social and conversational cues that could be incorporated into the design of social robots, and also briefly discusses the emotional bonds that may be built between humans and robots. Facets surrounding acceptance of social robots by humans and also ethical/moral concerns have also been discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Social Robots)
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