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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Collaboration with teleoperated robots

Researchers at the University of Salzburg have asked two focus groups about their expectations related to robots as working partners. The research was part of the EU-project Advanced robotic systems in future collaborative working environments.

Generally, the participants associated positive expectations as well as negative expectations and fear about the future when working together with robots. Some of the mostly mentioned arguments concerning collaboration are that robots will never be able to substitute colleagues at work, as humans are needed for good social contact. Working together with robots increases isolation loneliness of human beings. Quotes: “It needs human beings for good social contact” or “A robot shall not substitute a human being.”

Most of the participants agree that a robot will never be an equal working colleague for them; All participants agree that a robot should displace a human being only in case of monotonous or dangerous work. Robots should only adopt physical work and support humans. Participants think a social robot would not be accepted because that would cause to a competition between human and robot effectiveness, whereas the robot will be the more efficient one .

The results of the study show that autonomous robots are differently perceived than teleoperated robots when security is concerned. People indicate to feel more secure when a human controls a robot compared with an autonomously acting robot. The teleoperated robot seems to be perceived more positively with regard to attractiveness and perceived quality than the autonomous robot.

The results therefore provide support for the fact that humans have a more positive attitude toward remotely-controlled robots. Furthermore, the study clearly demonstrates that functional design of robots is preferred (compared with humanoid and animal-like robots), as functional robots seem to rather inspire confidence than humanoid robots.

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