A Collaborative Homeostatic-Based Behavior Controller for Social Robots in Human–Robot Interaction Experiments


Robots have been gradually leaving laboratory and factory environments and moving into human populated environments. Various social robots have been developed with the ability to exhibit social behaviors and collaborate with non-expert users in different situations. In order to increase the degree of collaboration between humans and the robots in human–robot joint action systems, these robots need to achieve higher levels of interaction with humans. However, many social robots are operated under teleoperation modes or pre-programmed scenarios. Based on homeostatic drive theory, this paper presents the development of a novel collaborative behavior controller for social robots to jointly perform tasks with users in human–robot interaction (HRI) experiments. Manual work during the experiments is reduced, and the experimenters can focus more on the interaction. We propose a hybrid concept for the behavior decision-making process, which combines the hierarchical approach and parallel-rooted, ordered, slip-stack hierarchical architecture. Emotions are associated with behaviors by using the two-dimensional space model of valence and arousal. We validate the usage of the behavior controller by a joint attention HRI scenario in which the NAO robot and a therapist jointly interact with children.

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The work leading to these results has received funding from the European Commission 7th Framework Program as a part of the project DREAM Grant No. 611391. Greet Van de Perre is funded by the Fund for Scientific Research (FWO), Flanders. Ramona Simut is funded by the Government agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT), Flanders. Robotics and Multibody Mechanics Research Group is partner of the Agile and Human Centered Production and Robotic Systems Research Priority of Flanders Make. The authors would like to thank the therapists from Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium) and Babes-Bolyai University (Romania) for their contributions to the system validation.

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Correspondence to Hoang-Long Cao.

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Cao, H., Gómez Esteban, P., Albert, D.B. et al. A Collaborative Homeostatic-Based Behavior Controller for Social Robots in Human–Robot Interaction Experiments. Int J of Soc Robotics 9, 675–690 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12369-017-0405-z

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  • Homeostasis
  • Behavior controller
  • Social robot
  • Joint action