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Robots move out of the factory into areas that have so far been the sole realm of human interactions. Thus, these new kinds of robots need to be able to interact with humans in unrestricted, dynamic encounters, being able to recognize and generate appropriate social signals. On the other hand, it remains a puzzle how the introduction of such technology will change and shape social practices that are touched by this introduction. Thus, in our research we investigate interactions in more lab-based settings but are also engaged in participatory approaches for developing social robots with relevant stakeholders and users.


User Driven Robot Development

Over the last few years a number of studies and meta-analyses have shown that the development of social robots for the elder care sector is primarily technology driven and relying on stereotypes about elderly when it comes to designing the robots as well as the services provided by these robots. Thereby, the approach disregards the great diversity of target users in terms of their individual abilities and needs on the one hand and the interplay with institutional needs and practices on the other hand.
In this project we are proposing a new paradigm for developing technological innovations like social robots that is decidedly not technology driven but focuses on the actual social practices that will be targeted by social robots. This will also encourage disruptive development that is not in line with the current philosophy of developing large-scale and/or general purpose robots (e.g. CareOBot, Nao, etc.). Instead we focus on small, modular and specialized robots in terms of their hardware, design, and behavior (both in terms of services and interaction). We claim that it is necessary to engage in focused interactions with end users as well as stakeholders throughout the whole development process in order to mobilize their often tacit knowledge and allowing them to shape the look and feel of the robot as well as testing the interactive use of prototypes that support the services they are in need of.

Affective Body Movements Across Cultures

Humans are very good in expressing and interpreting emotions from a variety of different sources like voice, facial expression, or body movements. In this project, we concentrate on body movements and how those are not only a source of affective information but might also have a different interpretation in different cultures. To cope with these multiple viewpoints in generating and interpreting body movements in robots, we use several methodological approaches from replication of culture-specific studies in other cultural contexts or co-creation of body movements from users of different cultures. Especially the last approach is interesting as it allows us to build up a cross-cultural database of movement parameters that can be used to model culture-specific robot behaviors.

The Role of Embodiment in HRI
In this project we investigate how the physical presence of robots and their different embodiment influence how users interact with the robots and how they perceive the robots. To this end, we investigate users' interaction time and perception of the robot in relation to the different head nodding condition, where embodiment of the robot is tested between subjects and head nodding behavior within subject. So far, five different robot embodiments have been used in this project: a virtual agent, an  on-screen Nao robot (Skype-condition), a MyKeepOn, a Nao, and a Telenoid.


Social Robots for Assisted Living (SRAL)
The demographic development shows the need for technical solutions to previously social work areas due to the simple fact that in the long run not enough people will be available in the work force. A crucial area in an ageing society is the care and treatment of elderly people who should be encouraged and supported in a self guided life. One possibility in this complex and challenging endeavor is the use of robots as social companions that allow for triggering cognitive and social activities. On the technical side this opens up a plethora of challenging research questions ranging from engineering aspects like social signal processing or path finding to interaction design aspects like social behavior modeling or emotional interactions. Additionally, the introduction of robots into areas that are so far viewed as the sole realm of human interactions gives rise to ethical considerations and uncertainties about the acceptance of these systems.

3rd International Workshop on Culture Aware Robotics (CARs), International Conference on Social Robotics, 26-30 October 2015, Paris, France
CARs is a workshop series that was initiated in 2014 on HRI and AAMAS. Next workshop will be held at ICSR 2015. The workshops aim at improving awareness on the topic and facilitates communication among researchers from different cultures and those interested in culture as a factor in interacting with robots. The scientific focus of the activity is directed to culturally-aware robotics, which refers to a brand-new area in social robotics and human robot interaction and is closely related to the emergence of the field of culture aware computing in computer science and related disciplines. The main focus is on understanding the influence of culture on many human processes that affect human-robot interactions be it directly or indirectly. Culture aware robots can thus be defined as robotic systems, where culture-related information has had some impact on its design, runtime or internal processes, structures, and/or objectives.

Collaborations (Selection)

  • Yukiko Nakano, Seikei University, Japan
  • Tomoko Koda, Osaka Institute of Technology, Japan
  • Maja Mataric, University of Southern California, USA
  • Bilge Mutlu, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  • Tatsuya Nomura, Ryukoku University, Japan
  • Sosu Nord Futurelab, Aalborg, Denmark
  • Rødekorshjemmet Løgstør, Denmark

Related Publications

Rehm, M. (in press). Affective Body Movements (for Robots) Across Cultures. In C. Faucher (Ed.), Culture-Awareness in Human Reasoning and Behavior and in Intelligent Systems. Springer.

Rehm, M., Krogsager, A., & Segato, N. (2016). Perception of Affective Body Movements in HRI Across Age Groups: Comparison Between Results from Denmark and Japan (Honorable Mention). In Culture and Computing. IEEE Computer Society Press, 25-32.

Tan, Z-H., Bai, S., Bak, T., Rehm, M., & Jochum, E. A. (Eds.) (2015). The 3rd AAU Workshop on Robotics: Proceedings. Aalborg Universitetsforlag. (AAU Workshop on Robotics).

Rehm, M., & Bak, T. (Eds.) (in press). 2nd AAU Workshop on Human-Centered Robotics. Aalborg: Aalborg Universitetsforlag.

Rehm, M., Mataric, M. J., Nomura, T., & Mutlu, B. (2014). Culture-aware robotics (CARs). In ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction. IEEE Computer Society Press.

Krogsager, A., Pedersen, N., & Rehm, M. (2014). Backchannel Head Nods in Danish First Meeting Encounters with a Humanoid Robot: The Role of Physical Embodiment. In HCI International 2014. (pp. 651-662).Springer.

Pedersen, N., Krogsager, A., Jensen, D. G., & Rehm, M. (2014). The Role of Physical Embodiment of Humanoid Robot Interaction: Focusing on Backchannel Head Nods in Danish First Meeting Encounters. In HCI International 2014. (pp. 583-587).Springer.

Bai, S., Larsen, J. A., Madsen, O., & Rehm, M. (Eds.) (2013). 1st AAU Workshop on Human-Centered Robotics. Aalborg: Aalborg Universitetsforlag.

Rehm, M. (2013). From multicultural agents to culture-aware robots (Best Paper Award). In M. Kurosu (Ed.), Human-Computer Interaction. Human-Centred Design Approaches, Methods, Tools, and Environments: 15th International Conference, HCI International 2013, Las Vegas, NV, USA, July 21-26, 2013, Proceedings, Part III. (pp. 431-440). Springer Publishing Company. (Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS)). 10.1007/978-3-642-39232-0_47

Rehm, M., & Krogsager, A. (2013). Negative Affect in Human Robot Interaction: Impoliteness in Unexpected Encounters with Robots. In Proceedings of the 22nd IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN): Living Together, Enjoying Together, and Working Together with Robots!. (pp. 45-50). IEEE Computer Society Press. (International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication). 10.1109/ROMAN.2013.6628529

Rehm, M. (2012). Experimental designs for cross-cultural interactions: A case study on affective body movements for HRI. In Proceedings of the 2012 12th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids). (pp. 78-83). IEEE Computer Society Press. (IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots). 10.1109/HUMANOIDS.2012.6651502

Rehm, M., Nakano, Y., Koda, T., & Winschiers-Theophilus, H. (2012). Culturally Aware Agent Communication. In M. Zacharias, & J. V. de Oliveira (Eds.), Human-Computer Interaction: The Agency Perspective. (pp. 411-436). Springer. (Studies in Computational Intelligence, Vol. 396). 10.1007/978-3-642-25691-2_18

André, E., Bevacqua, E., Heylen, D., Niewiadomski, R., Pelachaud, C., Peters, C., Poggi, I., & Rehm, M. (2011). Non-verbal Persuasion and Communication in an Affective Agent. In P. Petta, C. Pelachaud, & R. Cowie (Eds.), Emotion-Oriented Systems: The Humaine Handbook. (pp. 585-608). Springer. (Cognitive Technologies; No. Part 6, Vol. 2011). 10.1007/978-3-642-15184-2_30

Peters, C., Castellano, G., Rehm, M., André, E., Raouzaiou, A., Karpouzis, K., Vasalou, A. (2011). Fundamentals of Agent Perception and Attention Modelling. In P. Petta, C. Pelachaud, & R. Cowie (Eds.), Emotion-Oriented Systems: The HUMAINE Handbook. (pp. 293-319). Springer. 10.1007/978-3-642-15184-2_16

Lipi, A. A., Nakano, Y., & Rehm, M. (2010). Culture and Social Relationship as Factors of Affecting Communicative Non-Verbal Behaviors. Transactions of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence, 25(6), 712-722.

Lipi, A. A., Nakano, Y., & Rehm, M. (2010). A Socio-Cultural Model Based on Empirical Data of Cultural and Social Relationship. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, (6259), 71-84. 10.1007/978-3-642-17184-0_6

Rehm, M. (2010). Nonsymbolic Gestural Interaction for Ambient Intelligence. In H. Aghajan, R. L-C. Delgado, & J. C. Augusto (Eds.), Human-Centric Interfaces for Ambient Intelligence. (pp. 327-345). Chapter 13.Academic Press, Incorporated.