As we engage more closely with robots and other automated technology, the ability to work effectively together is key. Central to this is likely to be the ability to understand one another, and a recent study from the University of Trento invokes the age-old maxim that true understanding comes when you walk a mile in someone’s shoes.
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The research explored whether ‘beaming’ a human inside a robot, it affects the overall attitude of that person towards the robot. Interestingly, that is precisely what appeared to happen, with participants appearing to better identify with the robot they had been ‘beamed’ inside of.
“Unlike exercises in which the participants couldn’t t move the robot’s head or do that in a coordinated manner with other body movements, in our study the experience of walking in the shoes of a robot led the participants to adopt a friendlier attitude, to perceive them as socially closer,” the authors explain.
The authors believe their work provides a valuable contribution to the growing body of research exploring the intersection between humans and machines. They believe it could be especially important in helping people to overcome their fear of robots.
“These aspects are very important because one of the problems of robotics today is how to make robots more acceptable to humans. I am thinking about automated assistive devices, in particular, which will be used more and more to help people in their daily life, for example in the case of individuals with reduced mobility. In our study, we demonstrate that experiencing how it feels to be inside a robot makes it easier to accept them and communicate with them,” they conclude.