The Role of Expression in Robots that Learn from People

C. Breazeal


Robotics has traditionally focused on developing intelligent machines that can manipulate and interact with objects. The promise of personal robots, however, challenges researchers to develop socially intelligent robots that can collaborate with people to do things. In the future, robots are envisioned to assist people with a wide range of activities such as domestic chores, helping elders to live independently longer, serving a therapeutic role to help children with autism, assisting people undergoing physical rehabilitation and much more. Many of these activities shall require robots to learn new tasks, skills and individual preferences while ‘on the job’ from people with little expertise in the underlying technology. This paper identifies four key challenges in developing social robots that can learn from natural interpersonal interaction. The author highlights the important role that expressive behaviour plays in this process, drawing on examples from the past 8 years of her research group, the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab.

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