Anthropomorphism in social robotics: empirical results on human–robot interaction in hybrid production workplaces

Abstract

New forms of artificial intelligence on the one hand and the ubiquitous networking of “everything with everything” on the other hand characterize the fourth industrial revolution. This results in a changed understanding of human–machine interaction, in new models for production, in which man and machine together with virtual agents form hybrid teams. The empirical study “Socializing with robots” aims to gain insight especially into conditions of development and processes of hybrid human–machine teams. In the experiment, human–robot actions and interactions were closely observed in a virtual environment. Robots as partners differed in shape and behavior (reliable or faulty). Participants were instructed to achieve an objective that could only be achieved via close teamwork. This paper unites different aspects from core disciplines of social robotics and psychology contributing to anthropomorphization with the empirical insights of the experiment. It focuses on the psychological effects (e.g. reactions of different personality types) on anthropomorphization and mechanization, taking the inter- and transdisciplinary field of social robotics as a starting point.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Six Sigma is a method for evaluating quality management in organizations with various foci. The method enables organizations to implement a switching structure which is more flexible than other structural approaches Schroeder et al. (2008).

  2. 2.

    The fourth industrial revolution is closely linked to digitalization and comprises blending of physical and virtual reality, being characterized by increased connectivity and perpetual innovation at a fast speed. Keywords connected to the industrial revolution are Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3D-printing, or biotechnology (Schwab 2017).

  3. 3.

    For an English translation see Mori et al. (2012).

  4. 4.

    Participants interact with a robot, believing it is autonomous. In reality, a human who is invisible to the participant is operating the robot.

  5. 5.

    The Virtual Theater (by MSE Weibull) is an immersive simulator that combines the natural user interfaces of a Head Mounted Display and an omnidirectional conveyor belt. The user’s position and orientation in virtual space is determined through a tracking system. It was combined with a wireless presenter, which served as an input device.

  6. 6.

    http://www.soscisurvey.de.

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Acknowledgements

The research and development project SoWiRo is funded by the Start-up Grant of the RWTH Aachen. The research and development project ARIZ is Co-funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the “Innovations for Tomorrow’s Production, Services, and Work” Program (funding number 02L14Z000) and managed by the Project Management Agency Karlsruhe (PTKA). The authors are responsible for the content of this publication.

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Richert, A., Müller, S., Schröder, S. et al. Anthropomorphism in social robotics: empirical results on human–robot interaction in hybrid production workplaces. AI & Soc 33, 413–424 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00146-017-0756-x

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Keywords

  • Anthropomorphism
  • Social robotics
  • Industry 4.0
  • Cyber-physical-systems
  • Lightweight robotics
  • Collaboration
  • Human–machine interaction
  • Personality
  • Problem solving behavior