Multidisciplinary Collaboration for Socially Assistive Robotics
Papers from the AAAI Spring Symposium
Adriana Tapus, Marek Michalowski, and Selma Sabanovic, Cochairs
Human-robot interaction (HRI) for socially assistive applications emphasizes the centrality of social relationships to our everyday experiences. As we endow robots with interactive capabilities and integrate them into our lives, research is increasingly focused on the design of social interactions that have the potential to enhance the quality of life of a variety of populations. Such robots should use social capabilities to assist humans in physical or cognitive tasks such as rehabilitation and training exercises, therapeutic and educational play, mobility, providing information, housework, and so on.
An effective socially assistive robot must understand and interact with its environment safely, exhibit social behavior, and focus its attention and communication on users in order to help them achieve specific goals. The robot’s physical embodiment, appearance, verbal and nonverbal communicative abilities, and empathy play key roles in its assistive effectiveness. The complex integration of social factors and technical design encourages problem-, task-, or issue-based engagement across multiple disciplines with an artifact rich in both social and technological significance.
Research in this field is therefore of interest to, and draws from, a range of disciplines in engineering, health sciences, psychology, social and cognitive sciences, and the arts. This collaboration requires close coordination and communication between diverse communities of practitioners at all stages of the process: inception, design, development, use, and evaluation. Working in this domain is challenging due to the differences in terminology, methodology, practices, and ethical considerations inherent in multidisciplinary collaboration.