Recently, there has been a lot of excitement about “social robots,” which appear to interact naturally with people by following programmed rules, triggered in response to human behavioral cues. There are a number of scenarios where they could even replace humans as more convenient or more cost-effective options or in hazardous environments, for example. One potential market is shopping malls, where the eye-catching novelty of robots, combined with a range of customer-focused functions, could increase consumer engagement in this highly competitive environment. Yet, many social robots still fall short of real interaction, often serving as little more than glorified touchscreens. The EU-supported MuMMER project (MultiModal Mall Entertainment Robot; http://mummer-project.eu) has designed a humanoid robot based on SoftBank's Pepper platform, which is able to interact autonomously and naturally with members of the public. Specifically, their robot will exhibit behavior that is socially appropriate, combining speech-based interaction with nonverbal communication and human-aware navigation.
- HUMAN-COMPUTER INTERACTION