Social Robotics

Imagine an intelligent robot with social skills that made it fun to work with. A robot that could help you achieve tasks more efficiently. Social robots are designed to work closely with people safely and efficiently, and to add value to people's lives by helping, caring, teaching and entertaining. 

Social robots are a disruptive technology, poised to have a profound impact on business, society and the global economy. Some of the most pressing critical robotics research challenges are:

  1. Automomy: Robots today are closely monitored and supervised by people. In the future robots will be more independent able to roam and explore autonomously.
  2. Intelligence: Robots today follow predefined behaviours. To be more useful they need to develop smarter more flexible behaviours that allow them to adapt to changes.
  3. Proactive Behaviours: Robots that can only react to sensory input are limited. If they are working with people then they need to anticipate and predict events, and take actions before events happen.
  4. Cybersecurity: security is often an after thought in the design of social robots. Robots gather vast volumes of sensitive information that can be compromised. They have a physical presence and are able to use physical force during human-robot interactions. Security violations include theft/modification of sensor and symbolic data and algorithms,  control of a robots actions, modifications to decision making and feedback mechanisms.
  5. Human-Robot Interaction and Sociability: Robots today are mostly dangerous to be near and antisocial. Robots of the future need to be able to interact with people safely, effectively and legally.
  6. Impact on individuals, Government, Business and Society: Social robots work with people. They will be able to touch and influence people and have the opportunity to not only help but also harm. Social robots raise new and challenging legal and ethical questions.

Robots today are everywhere. You can find them assisting doctors in the operating theatre, plugging oil leaks on the bottom of the ocean, and playing soccer at International competitions around the world. Increasingly robots are being developed to interact with ordinary people in wider society not just scientists in research labs or carefully contrained environments. As a result important questions about their design, capabilities and legal status are being raised. Robots are entering our homes, our workplaces and our dreams.

Already robots can perceive things beyond human capability, they can collaborate with each other in ways that are not possible for humans, e.g. they can share sensor data directly, imagine if I could see exactly what you see in real time. The age of robots is upon us and about to unleashed a new wave of disruptive innovation that will challenge society like never before.

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