Monday, September 24, 2012

Robotic Social Trash Bins Want To Help To Kids, They See, Move, Communicate

Toyohashi Tech researchers use ‘robotic social trash boxes’ to investigate interactions between humans and robots for improving robot-to-human communications. This report is featured in the September issue of the Toyohashi Tech eNewsletter.

Designing concept for STB 

Humans regulate their interactions according to different contexts, the degree of the relationship, cultural factors, gender, age, and so on. These factors can be utilized as an interpersonal boundary-control mechanism which is totally dependent on encouraging or discouraging another person’s interactions. Humans are expected to dynamically optimize the above mechanism according to the interpersonal distances and personal spaces (proxemics). 

Children interacting with the sociable trash-box 

Michio Okada and colleagues at Toyohashi University of Technology were interested in determining what kind of distances (spheres), effective social cue, and behaviors that an sociable trash box (STB) requires with children in order to convey its intention to acquire child assistance in collecting trash from the environment as a child-dependent robot.

The experiments were carries out at the Developmental Center for Children at Toyohashi City, and evaluated the validity and effectiveness of the approach through different interactive scenarios. The experiments on naturally interacting with the STBs were conducted with the participation of 108 children aged 4 and 11 years old).

Interactive distances between children and STB 
The results of the proxemics showed that when the STBs moved individually in the environment and moved in a swarm (three STBs), the children established different spaces (according to distance and interactive time) to interact with the STB.

These extracted spaces can be utilized in the STB decision process (moving with distances, staying time and so on) to convey its intention to collect trash with assistance from children. This will be the basis of our future plans to extend our study in order to develop a decision hierarchy inside of the STBs.

"The aim of  Electronics-Inspired Interdisciplinary Research Institute (EIIRIS) is to produce world-class innovative research," says President Yoshiyuki Sakaki. "To do this we are bringing together ambitious young researchers from diverse fields to collaborate on pioneering new frontiers in science such as brain/neuro-electronics as well as tackling some of the major issues mankind faces today: issues such as environmental changes and aging societies." 

Contacts and sources: 
Toyohashi University of Technology 

Electronics-Inspired Interdisciplinary Research Institute (EIIRIS) 
EIIRIS is Toyohashi Tech’s new flagship research complex launched on 1st October 2010.  

Authors: Yuto Yamaji, Taisuke Miyake, Yuta Yoshiike, P. Ravindra De Silva and Michio Okada
Title of original paper: STB: Child-dependent Sociable Trash Box Robot
Journal: International journal of social robotics, 3, 4, Pages 359–370, 2011
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1007/s12369-011-0114-y
Affiliations: Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Toyohashi University of Technology


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