Social Robotics: How could robots be integrated into our everyday lives?

Written by Ibrahim Hameed, PhD, Associate Professor, Faculty for Information Technology and Electrical Engineering Department of ICT and Natural Sciences. Additionally a collaborator with Telenor-NTNU AI-Lab and a member of the Organizing Committee for the first Telenor-NTNU AI-Lab Hackathon (https://www.ntnu.edu/ailab/hackaton).

Written: 21 March 2017


Definition of social robotics: Concentrates on the development and design of robots which interact socially with humans (Source: ICG Global).

Below are examples of varying settings of which social robots can be deployed in and how they can be used for various applications.

Museum:

  • Robots can be used in museums to guide visitors with mobility issues. In a non-disturbing manner, they can send a signal to Bluetooth headphones in order to explain the artwork. In addition, robots can use its display screen to provide more details and history about the artwork and/or artist.

Education:

  • As a means of assisting teachers in schools, robots can, for example, give presentations, repeat things, switch communication/interface language, collect information about the academic progress of each student and produce semester reports. Additionally, a robot can predict when a student has become bored, for example, and can easily switch between moods in order to refresh the atmosphere in the classroom. Enlivened touches can range from teaching and singing to dancing and more.
  • In the kindergarten and preschool setting, robots can help in assisting in achieving constructive educational activities, telling stories and displaying motor activities and skills to kids.

Healthcare:

  • In healthcare settings, robots can be used as a companion to elderly people. In addition to ordering medicine or food,  they can remind the elderly to go to their next doctor visit, take their pills, encourage exercise, and turn on the TV and music player. In addition, robots can have a conversation, suggest a food recipe from the Internet, check the weather forecast and search for interesting news.  On a more analytical level, robots can learn an elderly person’s daily habits and behaviours, such as sleep patterns, and how it is distributed along the day, and also report to the hospital and/or relatives if something appears unusual. Also robots can help the elderly not to lose their motor and communication skills by encouraging them to use such on a daily basis. Not to mention, robots would be able to answer phone calls while an elderly person is sleeping and recall the conversation to the awoken individual later.

Safety:

  • Robots can serve a bigger role than being a flight recorder (a.k.a. a black box) in an aircraft, they can collect information about what is going on in its environment, provide reports and broadcast safety procedures. In a home setting, robots can check who is knocking on the front door, check if the visitor is in the family and friends’ network, ask permission from a trusted source if to allow a visitor to come inside the house or not, open/close curtains, watch the kids while they are playing in their room and entertain them as well.

 

All in all, social robots will be real friends and associates located at our homes, work environments and classrooms. And with the help of AI, these machines with personalities will be able to advise us, help us to set a plan for our day, judge our behaviour and instruct us ,and additionally connect us with others and with the world.