Category Archives: Sociorobotics

Personal Modular Robot

The two cloth climbing examples below inspire the idea of a modular personal robot which can detach from its base and climb onto the lap or even perhaps the bed of its user. The utility of a robot with these abilities presents multiple scenarios and health monitoring/telepresence possibilities for disabled and elderly people.

The base robot could be equipped to go up and down stairs or any other domestic terrain carrying its detachable haptic brother wherever required, both equipped with health related sensors, cameras, projectors and telepresence developments or any other relevant health or care related technology.

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Care Home Abuse in the UK

In recent years the exposure of failing state aided services for the elderly has gathered pace in the UK. The video below taken from BBC’s Panorama is the latest and probably the most disturbing, gratuitous & shocking example we have seen to date.

It’s worrying to note however that this abuse was only exposed due to a hidden camera placed in Maria’s care home room by her concerned daughter.

The central question here then could be – why can’t we have wi-fi camera’s monitoring any vulnerable person in any care setting. The cost is minimal and yet the comfort of being able to look in on your elderly Mum or Dad whenever possible would be invaluable. Notwithstanding the benefits for the care facility itself and associated health services. There are of course privacy issues here but hardly insurmountable with recent developments in surveillance software & multi-agency protocols.

Maria was left in her room alone for 13 hours, every day without even a television switched on for company? Imagine the considerable benefits of a small remotely accessible personal companion robot which could not only project Skype style communication but also family video’s, photo’s, TV or even Maria’s favourite music. If this telepresence equipped social robot is also tactile and huggable, the haptic comforts of having a ‘daemon’ like presence are very clear. The combination of all these technologies into a working socially equipped companion robot is available now! As the brilliant LuminAR project shows below new technology can be inexpensive and easily adapted for this type of social robot!

A conveniently removable & washable tactile coat could finish off this personal companion style robot.

It has become all too painfully clear that we cannot leave the care of our vulnerable family members & friends exclusively to the ill equipped & inadequately regulated hands of state aided and commercial care?

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OCULUS Laptop Robot

These are the kind of ideas which will make robots common place in our homes, simple and inexpensive –

This basic idea could be replicated with an iPhone as the ‘brains’ and Oculus could be replaced with more sophisticated, all terrain robot platforms which can climb or drive or even fly. For instance, the voice recognition of the iPhone could be utilised or even a small projector rather than a screen could be incorporated. Companion style robots could also be used with health and elder care modularity. Also interesting to know that OCULUS was funded through Kickstarter a community funding web site.

I get the feeling that anything is possible with the foundations of this idea. Just brilliant!

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Care-O-Bot 3

These robots appear to have been produced with research from Prof Kerstin Dautehahn and her team at The Adaptive Systems Research Group (University of Herts) in collaboration with Fraunhofer IPA. To their credit they seem to be heading towards a commercially available open source product rather than hiding behind the usual robotics idiom of  ‘new research platform – apply here’ – (on further reading this is debatable!). I kind of like Care-O-Bot 3’s ‘technomorphic’ shape, despite its size but they’re clearly avoiding the humanoid issues and interaction seems pretty good. Some of the elderly adults in the video also appeared to like it so it definitely looks good on more than a few critical areas of HRI and robotic innovation.

I particularly like these robots roles as care assistants rather than care worker replacements so somewhat ethically sound too. It is however, not particularly companionable and clearly not designed as such, which conveniently stimulates a discussion regarding the shaping of robots for differing roles. A socially equipped, anti-anthropomorphic service robot like Care-O-Bot 3 looks functional so it does functional tasks (but not upstairs?), a social companion robot like Paro elicits emotional/haptic responses creating emotional attachments. So are there domestic spaces for both, certainly looks like it, particularly if they can communicate simultaneously with us and each other?

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NAO on the Engadget Show

The video below is a very impressive display of Alderbaran‘s NAO on the Engadget show. It’s interesting that doubts about humanoid robots are raised on this video, when NAO is such a good example. However, even in the face of such robotic advancements seen in NAO I still can’t seem to avoid a distinct uneasiness concerning robotic slavery. A little electro-mechanical woman/man who does everything that I can’t be bothered to do or don’t like doing is strangely unsettling. It clearly has no feelings or emotions regarding it’s own drudgery and yet I do and I certainly don’t have those anthropomorphic feelings regarding the dishwasher – so why so for humanoid robots?


Their website seems a little out of date. However, having just discovered this project a new post seemed appropriate. I’m not quite sure I fully understand their approach or indeed this statement from their About Us page which says they want “to investigate how socially situated development can be brought to robots that grow up and adapt to humans in everyday environments.”  I get the feeling that something is slightly lost in translation here. The notion that I may have to wait for my new and very expensive robot to ‘grow up’ is not quite what I was expecting? More importantly, there are some really good papers on their link for Publications and lastly, their conviction that interdiciplinarity is the way forward for robotics definitely works for Sociorobotics.

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BBC Horizon – Where’s My Robot? (2008)

Danny Wallace takes a cynical look at contemporary robotic technology but eventually concludes that the robot we have all been expecting may not be too far away.

The following sequence of short films are from

The following films are all taken from which looks at robots from alternative perspectives, is it art or sci-fi or both and yet so much more!!

The Machine – Stunning!

The Machine is a beautiful short film with a familiar story of machines taking over the world.