Experts are predicting nothing less than a robotics boom over the coming decade. Companies world-wide are massively increasing their emphasis on robotics and automation. In addition to large-scale industrial applications, this more and more often entails social machines designed to interact directly with human beings in various situations in everyday life.
Psychology in connection with robots, the Ars Electronica Futurelab’s new research field, investigates design-relevant issues with a clear focus on the needs, perceptions and experiences of human users. How should a service robot look in order for an elderly lady, who’s a mature, responsible human being, to feel like she’s being taken seriously? Why does it backfire when robots are made to resemble human beings too closely? How does a robotic auto impart a feeling of security to others with whom it shares the road? Can providing preparatory information to users increase acceptance of autonomous machines—and does it make a difference if we’re not just confronted by one robot but surrounded by them?
The lens of psychology and recent findings by researchers in the social sciences serve us as the point of departure on the basis of which we, in the transdisciplinary environment of the Futurelab, can derive potential interaction scenarios and design recommendations for the visual and communicative components of an artificial agent.
If nothing else, the growing deployment of autonomous machines causes all kinds of fear and prejudices. In this context, Robopsychology takes them seriously and helps to design robots in whose company we feel comfortable.