Designing robots for human interaction is a multifaceted challenge involving the robot’s intelligent behavior, physical form, mechanical structure, and interaction aspects. In our lab, we develop and study interactive robotic systems, combining methods from AI, Mechanical and User-Centered Design, and Human-Computer Interaction.
First, I will present AI systems to support human-robot fluency, including computational cognitive architectures rooted in timing, joint action, and embodied cognition. These systems led to the development of an interactive robotic improvisation system that uses embodied gestures for simultaneous, yet responsive, joint musicianship. We are now investigating how these methods can be used for a wearable robotic arm.
When it comes to the robot’s physical form, I draw on the fact that the expressive movement of the robot is at the core of its function, and argue for a movement-centric design approach. The robot’s movement is not added on after the robot is designed, but factored in from the onset and converses with both the visual and the pragmatic requirements of the robot. The use of techniques from 3D character animation, sculpture, industrial, and interaction design, will be exemplified through the design process of five socially expressive robots, including Shimon, Travis, Kip, Vyo, and Blossom.
The third pillar of our work is the experimental study of people interacting with robots. Our lab developed a series of low-cost smartphone-based robots, which we use in situations of disclosure, conflict, compliance, and joint experiences. Our studies investigate the role of movement, timing, and nonverbal behavior in the social relationship and companionship between humans and robots, in an effort to design robots that better reflect the values we aspire to.
Guy Hoffman is Assistant Professor and the Mills Family Faculty Fellow in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University. Prior to that he was Assistant Professor at IDC Herzliya and co-director of the IDC Media Innovation Lab. Hoffman holds a Ph.D from MIT in the field of human-robot interaction. He heads the Human-Robot Collaboration and Companionship (HRC2) group, studying the algorithms, interaction schema, and designs enabling close interactions between people and personal robots in the workplace and at home. Among others, Hoffman developed the world’s first human-robot joint theater performance, and a real-time improvising human-robot Jazz duet. His research papers won several top academic awards, including Best Paper awards at HRI and robotics conferences in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013, and 2015. In both 2010 and 2012, he was selected as one of Israel’s most promising researchers under forty. His TEDx talk is one of the most viewed online talks on robotics, watched more than 2.9 million times. Hoffman received his M.Sc. in Computer Science from Tel Aviv University as part of the Adi Lautman interdisciplinary excellence scholarship program.