Can we build robots that can be taught in the same way that humans teach each other? That isn’t how we teach robots now. Will this make them more useful in natural disasters?

Today, we need to use robotics experts to teach even our most ‘socially adept’ robots, often rendering them useless in situations where they’re needed most and where those experts are not around, where robots need to be taught new tasks on the spot

As the speaker tells us, this talk presents some very new research.

“The emerging field of Human-Robot Interaction is undergoing rapid growth, motivated by important societal challenges facing the general public. In this talk, I highlight a number of provocative research findings that illuminate the social attributes of personal robots.

This new “breed” of social robot interacts with people in an interpersonal way, more as a partner rather than as a tool, and opens new applications for socially intelligent machines in the future. I illustrate these possibilities by highlighting a number of research projects from my group at the MIT Media Lab.

An important goal of this work is to use socially interactive robots as a scientific tool to understand human behavior, to design machines that can engage us on social and emotional levels as well as learn from people, and to use these insights to create robotic technologies that can enhance human performance and quality of life with specific applications in healthcare, education, entertainment, and telecommunication.”

Dr. Cynthia Breazeal

The seminar, The social side of personal robots was given at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute on the 18th of March 2011

Dr. Cynthia Breazeal is an Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she founded and directs the Personal Robots Group at the Media Lab.

She has authored the book “Designing Sociable Robots” and has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles.

She is also a member of the advisory board for the Science Channel. Her research focuses on developing the principles, techniques, and technologies for personal robots that are socially intelligent, interact and communicate with people in human-centric terms, work with humans as peers, and learn from people as an apprentice.

She has developed some of the world’s most famous robotic creatures ranging from small hexapod robots, to embedding robotic technologies into familiar everyday artifacts, to creating highly expressive humanoid robots and robot characters. Her recent work is investigates the impact of social robots on helping people of all ages to achieve personal goals that contribute to quality of life, in domains such as physical performance, learning and education, health, and family communication over distance.

She is a recipient of the National Academy of Engineering’s Gilbreth Lecture Award, Technology Review’s TR35 Award, and TIME magazine’s Best Inventions of 2008.

She has also been awarded an ONR Young Investigator Award, and was honored as finalist in the National Design Awards in Communication.

She also did a TED video last year.