Can robots and humans coexist?
Researchers in Texas are trying to find out.
Researchers are running a groundbreaking science and social experiment through the University of Austin’s robotics program.
Four-legged robots will roam across the Texan campus and see how the programmable robots interact with the human beings.
“The spin that we’re giving here is that we’re not so much interested in a one-to-one interaction with that particular human,” said engineer Luis Sentis. “We’re interested in the interaction with the community.”
The first assignment for the robots is to stroll through busy walkways delivering sanitizer and wipes.
Soon the robots may be able to communicate by giving directions and even tours.
The robots are not the only ones the researchers will be studying.
Social scientist Keri Stephens said eyes will be on both humans and robots. The researchers are interested in seeing the interactions and what can be learned from groups of people’s reactions when they see the robots around campus.
Based off of human feedback, the scientists will adjust the robots to make sure people are more comfortable around them.
The researchers said comfort is the key word. With the help of special cameras, the study will look at every reaction the people have, from body language and facial expressions to how they walk around the machines.
Just taking Spot, the most popular of the robots, for a stroll collects data that scientists hope will make the five-year study a success as robotics and artificial intelligence become more involved in everyday lives.
The study comes as artificial intelligence comes more and more into the spotlight. There is especially been focus on AI chatbots, with more announcements being made by Big Tech players to launch their own AI tools. Google and Microsoft both announced plans for AI-enhanced search this week, taking the artificial intelligence space race into a new phase.