International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 583–593 | Cite as

Multiple-Robot Conversational Patterns for Concealing Incoherent Responses

  • Tsunehiro ArimotoEmail author
  • Yuichiro Yoshikawa
  • Hiroshi Ishiguro


Conversational robots, which are used in the fields of education, therapy, and in expositions, are expected to keep a user engaged in conversation. However, these robots sometimes utter comments that are irrelevant topic to the current context owing to a failure in recognizing the human user’s speech or intention. Such a sudden topic shift is considered to interfere with what we call the sense of conversation with which a person can feel as if he or she is participating in a conversation. In this paper, to reduce the interferes of the sudden topic shift, we propose to use multiple robots in a conversation, in which even an actually irrelevant, sudden topic shift sounds involving possible relevance to be shared with subjects in the ongoing conversation. To verify it, we conducted an experiment in which subjects experienced a conversation with either one or two robots and then evaluated their impression of the conversations. The experimental results showed that the subjects who talked with two robots felt less ignored by the robots, and had less difficulty in continuing the conversation with them, than those who talked with a single robot. Further analysis considering subjects’ social skills raised the possibility of an additional effect on robot coherence perception. Finally, we discuss a new disruption-tolerant conversational system design using multiple robots based on the experimental results.


Conversational robot Multiple robots Sense of conversation Multi-party conversation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study is partially supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers JP25220004, JP24680022.

Conflict of interest

Y. Yoshikawa and H. Ishiguro serve as consultants of Vstone Co. Ltd.

Ethical Approval

This study received ethical approval from Graduate School of Engineering Science, Osaka University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tsunehiro Arimoto
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yuichiro Yoshikawa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hiroshi Ishiguro
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Osaka UniversityOsakaJapan
  2. 2.JST ERATOOsakaJapan

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