Special Issue "Emotions in Robots: Embodied Interaction in Social and Non-Social Environments"

A special issue of Multimodal Technologies and Interaction (ISSN 2414-4088).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (18 July 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Robert Lowe

University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Emotions; Human-Robot Interaction; Homeostasis; Embodiment; Multimodal Emotional Sensing

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Whether they are considered discrete or dimensional, emotions are 'embodied' phenomena. In recent years, emotion theory has evolved to acknowledge the role of the body in perception and action. The embodied agent does not play a merely passive role in emotion/affective processing—its bodily activity is not simply the output triggered by a ‘feed-forward’ cognitive appraisal. Rather, the body itself, in interaction with its external environment, influences how real, or imagined, environmental stimuli are perceived and acted upon. The body behaviorally orients and acts, and internally physiologically ‘prepares’ in relation to its external environment. Affective processing and ‘computation’ is, from this perspective, a phenomenon for which brain, body and physical environment are inextricably entangled and is in this sense considered ‘embodied’.

Today, we see a shift towards social robots that act in human environments and to a larger degree need to act in relation to social and emotional aspects.  There are at least three areas in which ‘embodied’ implementations of emotion (and affective) processes can enhance robotic performance in human environments: i) improved human-interactor experience, ii) facilitated competence, e.g., in joint human-robot tasks, iii) safety—in relation to robot-environment 'awareness'. Enhancements in the aforementioned areas require robots to have such emotion (and affective) processes shaped by the interactions they have in their social and non-social environments. For example, a nursing robot or a teacher-assistant robot must not only interact safely with its environment, it should act in a way that communicates care and respect for patients, and that supports the social bounds necessary for the task, but also respects its own goals and requirements for adaptive agency (e.g., maintaining battery levels, flexibly carrying out its various tasks). Internal (e.g., homeostatic) and external (e.g., social) signals should be embedded in the functional behaviors of robots, rather than ‘bolted on’ to the behavioral repertoire in order for the robots to retain credibility and competence in their social and non-social interactions. The mode of embodiment of the emotion-guided robot entails not only its physical dimension regarding how and what it senses and appears to human interactors but also its internal homeostatic aspects that regulate its goals and those very same interactions.

In this Special Issue, we are organizing a research topic on the theme “Emotions in Robots:  Embodied Interaction in Social and Non-Social Environments”. We invite contributors whose research interests concern implementation of emotional aspects that respect and facilitate the interactive requirements of the robot in human (social and non-social) environments.   

Dr. Robert Lowe
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Multimodal Technologies and Interaction is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Grounding synthetic/robotic emotions in modelled neurophysiological processes and interaction
  • Cognitive-Emotion architectures for Robots
  • Tactile emotion expression and perception in Robots
  • Applications of emotions in Human-Robot Interaction – Education, Cognitive intervention, Gaming
  • Multimodal emotion expression and perception in Robots
  • Risk/Safety assessing task-oriented Robots

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Allocentric Emotional Affordances in HRI: The Multimodal Binding
Multimodal Technologies Interact. 2018, 2(4), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/mti2040078
Received: 18 October 2018 / Accepted: 3 November 2018 / Published: 6 November 2018
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Abstract
The concept of affordance perception is one of the distinctive traits of human cognition; and its application to robots can dramatically improve the quality of human-robot interaction (HRI). In this paper we explore and discuss the idea of “emotional affordances” by proposing a [...] Read more.
The concept of affordance perception is one of the distinctive traits of human cognition; and its application to robots can dramatically improve the quality of human-robot interaction (HRI). In this paper we explore and discuss the idea of “emotional affordances” by proposing a viable model for implementation into HRI; which considers allocentric and multimodal perception. We consider “2-ways” affordances: perceived object triggering an emotion; and perceived human emotion expression triggering an action. In order to make the implementation generic; the proposed model includes a library that can be customised depending on the specific robot and application scenario. We present the AAA (Affordance-Appraisal-Arousal) model; which incorporates Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions; and we outline some numerical examples of how it can be used in different scenarios. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Modelling Adaptation through Social Allostasis: Modulating the Effects of Social Touch with Oxytocin in Embodied Agents
Multimodal Technologies Interact. 2018, 2(4), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/mti2040067
Received: 18 July 2018 / Revised: 19 September 2018 / Accepted: 21 September 2018 / Published: 3 October 2018
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Abstract
Social allostasis is a mechanism of adaptation that permits individuals to dynamically adapt their physiology to changing physical and social conditions. Oxytocin (OT) is widely considered to be one of the hormones that drives and adapts social behaviours. While its precise effects remain [...] Read more.
Social allostasis is a mechanism of adaptation that permits individuals to dynamically adapt their physiology to changing physical and social conditions. Oxytocin (OT) is widely considered to be one of the hormones that drives and adapts social behaviours. While its precise effects remain unclear, two areas where OT may promote adaptation are by affecting social salience, and affecting internal responses of performing social behaviours. Working towards a model of dynamic adaptation through social allostasis in simulated embodied agents, and extending our previous work studying OT-inspired modulation of social salience, we present a model and experiments that investigate the effects and adaptive value of allostatic processes based on hormonal (OT) modulation of affective elements of a social behaviour. In particular, we investigate and test the effects and adaptive value of modulating the degree of satisfaction of tactile contact in a social motivation context in a small simulated agent society across different environmental challenges (related to availability of food) and effects of OT modulation of social salience as a motivational incentive. Our results show that the effects of these modulatory mechanisms have different (positive or negative) adaptive value across different groups and under different environmental circumstance in a way that supports the context-dependent nature of OT, put forward by the interactionist approach to OT modulation in biological agents. In terms of simulation models, this means that OT modulation of the mechanisms that we have described should be context-dependent in order to maximise viability of our socially adaptive agents, illustrating the relevance of social allostasis mechanisms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Design for an Art Therapy Robot: An Explorative Review of the Theoretical Foundations for Engaging in Emotional and Creative Painting with a Robot
Multimodal Technologies Interact. 2018, 2(3), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/mti2030052
Received: 18 July 2018 / Revised: 17 August 2018 / Accepted: 28 August 2018 / Published: 3 September 2018
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Abstract
Social robots are being designed to help support people’s well-being in domestic and public environments. To address increasing incidences of psychological and emotional difficulties such as loneliness, and a shortage of human healthcare workers, we believe that robots will also play a useful [...] Read more.
Social robots are being designed to help support people’s well-being in domestic and public environments. To address increasing incidences of psychological and emotional difficulties such as loneliness, and a shortage of human healthcare workers, we believe that robots will also play a useful role in engaging with people in therapy, on an emotional and creative level, e.g., in music, drama, playing, and art therapy. Here, we focus on the latter case, on an autonomous robot capable of painting with a person. A challenge is that the theoretical foundations are highly complex; we are only just beginning ourselves to understand emotions and creativity in human science, which have been described as highly important challenges in artificial intelligence. To gain insight, we review some of the literature on robots used for therapy and art, potential strategies for interacting, and mechanisms for expressing emotions and creativity. In doing so, we also suggest the usefulness of the responsive art approach as a starting point for art therapy robots, describe a perceived gap between our understanding of emotions in human science and what is currently typically being addressed in engineering studies, and identify some potential ethical pitfalls and solutions for avoiding them. Based on our arguments, we propose a design for an art therapy robot, also discussing a simplified prototype implementation, toward informing future work in the area. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Reviews of Social Embodiment for Design of Non-Player Characters in Virtual Reality-Based Social Skill Training for Autistic Children
Multimodal Technologies Interact. 2018, 2(3), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/mti2030053
Received: 6 July 2018 / Revised: 17 August 2018 / Accepted: 28 August 2018 / Published: 4 September 2018
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Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to review the scholarly works regarding social embodiment aligned with the design of non-player characters in virtual reality (VR)-based social skill training for autistic children. VR-based social skill training for autistic children has been a naturalistic environment, [...] Read more.
The purpose of this paper is to review the scholarly works regarding social embodiment aligned with the design of non-player characters in virtual reality (VR)-based social skill training for autistic children. VR-based social skill training for autistic children has been a naturalistic environment, which allows autistic children themselves to shape socially-appropriate behaviors in real world. To build up the training environment for autistic children, it is necessary to identify how to simulate social components in the training. In particular, designing non-player characters (NPCs) in the training is essential to determining the quality of the simulated social interactions during the training. Through this literature review, this study proposes multiple design themes that underline the nature of social embodiment in which interactions with NPCs in VR-based social skill training take place. Full article
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