Communication with Social Robots

A special issue of Robotics (ISSN 2218-6581). This special issue belongs to the section "AI in Robotics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2022) | Viewed by 19831

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Human-Centered Design of Socio-Digitial Systems, Faculty of Psychology, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany
Interests: human–robot interaction; social robotics; robots for learning; communication; psychology; human-centered design; virtual agents

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Engineering Psychology, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Interests: human-robot interaction; industrial robotics; service robotics; anthropomorphism; gaze-cueing in HRI, affective communication; human-automation interaction; flexible function allocation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Communication is a major benefit of social robots but also a huge challenge for developers and researchers. Regarded from a broader socio-technical perspective, several questions arise that surpass technical issues such as speech synthesis and behavior recognition. First, the human interaction partners: Which communication expectancies do they have for social robots? How do they make sense of the communication channels offered by social robots? Second, the social robot: How should a social robot communicate with humans and/or other robots? Which communication styles are appropriate for social robots with varying morphology? Third, the social environment: How should social robots communicate depending on the task or interaction context (e.g., appropriate communication in work environments versus service or entertainment domains). Finally, an overarching issue is the interplay of all aspects mentioned before, which asks for theoretical approaches that relate all variables to each other.

This Special Issue addresses topics related to verbal and nonverbal communication with social robots. We invite researchers from various disciplines to contribute to this topic to combine empirical research, theoretical positions, and technological advancements with a human-centered approach (e.g., including a participatory design or user study). The topics include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • Anthropomorphic communication;
  • Communication expectancies;
  • Context-specific communication;
  •  Error communication;
  • Human-centered design;
  • Multimodal communication;
  • Social cues.

Best wishes,

Prof. Dr. Laura Kunold
Prof. Dr. Linda Onnasch
Guest Editors

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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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. Robotics is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). 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.

Published Papers (8 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

14 pages, 6938 KiB  
Article
The Influence of Visible Cables and Story Content on Perceived Autonomy in Social Human–Robot Interaction
by Eileen Roesler, Sophia C. Steinhaeusser, Birgit Lugrin and Linda Onnasch
Robotics 2023, 12(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics12010003 - 23 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1945
Abstract
From teaching technical skills to telling bedtime stories, social robots support various edutainment tasks that require smooth communication. Previous studies often emphasized the importance of the autonomy of social robots for those tasks. However, the cabling of robots with power sources and/ or [...] Read more.
From teaching technical skills to telling bedtime stories, social robots support various edutainment tasks that require smooth communication. Previous studies often emphasized the importance of the autonomy of social robots for those tasks. However, the cabling of robots with power sources and/ or host computers is often required due to technical restrictions. However, it is currently unclear if the cabling of robots makes a difference in perceived autonomy. Therefore, this study examined the influence of visible cables in different tasks on the perception of a social robot. In an online survey, participants evaluated videos of a social robot that was either equipped with a cable or not and told either a story with technical educational content or socially entertaining content. No significant differences were revealed between the cabled and the non-cabled robot, neither for the perceived autonomy nor for the associated concepts of the Godspeed questionnaire series. In addition, the story content did not influence perceived autonomy. However, the robot that told the technical content was perceived as significantly more intelligent and tended to be perceived as more likable than the robot that told the social content. Moreover, the interaction effect of cabling and story content for perceived safety just failed to reach the conventional level of significance. In the social content condition, the non-cabled robot tended to be perceived as less safe than the cabled robot. This was not true for the technical content condition. In conclusion, the results showed the importance of considering story content. Due to methodological limitations of the current study, namely, the lack of gestures accompanying the storytelling and the video-based approach, the missing effect of cabling in regard to perceived autonomy should be investigated in the future via real-life interaction studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with Social Robots)
Show Figures

Figure 1

27 pages, 1843 KiB  
Communication
Important Preliminary Insights for Designing Successful Communication between a Robotic Learning Assistant and Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Germany
by Aike C. Horstmann, Lisa Mühl, Louisa Köppen, Maike Lindhaus, Dunja Storch, Monika Bühren, Hanns Rüdiger Röttgers and Jarek Krajewski
Robotics 2022, 11(6), 141; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11060141 - 4 Dec 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2756
Abstract
Early therapeutic intervention programs help children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to improve their socio-emotional and functional skills. To relieve the children’s caregivers while ensuring that the children are adequately supported in their training exercises, new technologies may offer suitable solutions. This [...] Read more.
Early therapeutic intervention programs help children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to improve their socio-emotional and functional skills. To relieve the children’s caregivers while ensuring that the children are adequately supported in their training exercises, new technologies may offer suitable solutions. This study investigates the potential of a robotic learning assistant which is planned to monitor the children’s state of engagement and to intervene with appropriate motivational nudges when necessary. To analyze stakeholder requirements, interviews with parents as well as therapists of children with ASD were conducted. Besides a general positive attitude towards the usage of new technologies, we received some important insights for the design of the robot and its interaction with the children. One strongly accentuated aspect was the robot’s adequate and context-specific communication behavior, which we plan to address via an AI-based engagement detection system. Further aspects comprise for instance customizability, adaptability, and variability of the robot’s behavior, which should further be not too distracting while still being highly predictable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with Social Robots)
Show Figures

Figure 1

22 pages, 7263 KiB  
Article
A Framework to Study and Design Communication with Social Robots
by Laura Kunold and Linda Onnasch
Robotics 2022, 11(6), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11060129 - 15 Nov 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2760
Abstract
Communication is a central component in social human–robot interaction that needs to be planned and designed prior to the actual communicative act. We therefore propose a pragmatic, linear view of communication design for social robots that corresponds to a sender–receiver perspective. Our framework [...] Read more.
Communication is a central component in social human–robot interaction that needs to be planned and designed prior to the actual communicative act. We therefore propose a pragmatic, linear view of communication design for social robots that corresponds to a sender–receiver perspective. Our framework is based on Lasswell’s 5Ws of mass communication: Who, says what, in which channel, to whom, with what effect. We extend and adapt this model to communication in HRI. In addition, we point out that, besides the predefined communicative acts of a robot, other characteristics, such as a robot’s morphology, can also have an impact on humans, since humans tend to assign meaning to every cue in robots’ behavior and appearance. We illustrate the application of the extended framework to three different studies on human–robot communication to demonstrate the incremental value as it supports a systematic evaluation and the identification of similarities, differences, and research gaps. The framework therefore offers the opportunity for meta-analyses of existing research and additionally draws the path for future robust research designs for studying human–robot communication. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with Social Robots)
Show Figures

Figure 1

17 pages, 284 KiB  
Article
Germ-Free Robotic Friends: Loneliness during the COVID-19 Pandemic Enhanced the Willingness to Self-Disclose towards Robots
by Angelika Penner and Friederike Eyssel
Robotics 2022, 11(6), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11060121 - 9 Nov 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1828
Abstract
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people felt lonely. Social robots may serve to alleviate such feelings of social disconnection. Prior research pointed out that lonely or socially excluded individuals were particularly willing to interact with social robots, because they tend to anthropomorphize robots. [...] Read more.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people felt lonely. Social robots may serve to alleviate such feelings of social disconnection. Prior research pointed out that lonely or socially excluded individuals were particularly willing to interact with social robots, because they tend to anthropomorphize robots. Such anthropomorphization may facilitate deeming robots suitable as social interaction partners. To extend existing research on the role of social robots for lonely people, we examined the effect of inclusionary status (i.e., inclusion vs. exclusion vs. control) on mind perception, perceived warmth, and participants’ willingness to self-disclose towards a social robot. We hypothesized that social exclusion would increase mind perception, perceived warmth, and participants’ willingness to self-disclose towards a social robot. Above and beyond, we assessed self-reported loneliness during and before the COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas inclusionary status had no effect on the dependent variables, correlational analyses revealed that the more COVID-19-induced loneliness participants experienced, the more they were willing to self-disclose towards a robot. Likewise, these individuals attributed more mind agency to the robot and reported to look forward to a conversation with the robot. Summing up, people who experience situational loneliness may be particularly prone to accept social robots as social interaction partners. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with Social Robots)
24 pages, 1999 KiB  
Article
I Let Go Now! Towards a Voice-User Interface for Handovers between Robots and Users with Full and Impaired Sight
by Dorothea Langer, Franziska Legler, Philipp Kotsch, André Dettmann and Angelika C. Bullinger
Robotics 2022, 11(5), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11050112 - 15 Oct 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2002
Abstract
Handing over objects is a collaborative task that requires participants to synchronize their actions in terms of space and time, as well as their adherence to social standards. If one participant is a social robot and the other a visually impaired human, actions [...] Read more.
Handing over objects is a collaborative task that requires participants to synchronize their actions in terms of space and time, as well as their adherence to social standards. If one participant is a social robot and the other a visually impaired human, actions should favorably be coordinated by voice. User requirements for such a Voice-User Interface (VUI), as well as its required structure and content, are unknown so far. In our study, we applied the user-centered design process to develop a VUI for visually impaired humans and humans with full sight. Iterative development was conducted with interviews, workshops, and user tests to derive VUI requirements, dialog structure, and content. A final VUI prototype was evaluated in a standardized experiment with 60 subjects who were visually impaired or fully sighted. Results show that the VUI enabled all subjects to successfully receive objects with an error rate of only 1.8%. Likeability and accuracy were evaluated best, while habitability and speed of interaction were shown to need improvement. Qualitative feedback supported and detailed results, e.g., how to shorten some dialogs. To conclude, we recommend that inclusive VUI design for social robots should give precise information for handover processes and pay attention to social manners. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with Social Robots)
Show Figures

Figure 1

16 pages, 875 KiB  
Article
When Robots Fail—A VR Investigation on Caregivers’ Tolerance towards Communication and Processing Failures
by Kim Klüber and Linda Onnasch
Robotics 2022, 11(5), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11050106 - 7 Oct 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1973
Abstract
Robots are increasingly used in healthcare to support caregivers in their daily work routines. To ensure an effortless and easy interaction between caregivers and robots, communication via natural language is expected from robots. However, robotic speech bears a large potential for technical failures, [...] Read more.
Robots are increasingly used in healthcare to support caregivers in their daily work routines. To ensure an effortless and easy interaction between caregivers and robots, communication via natural language is expected from robots. However, robotic speech bears a large potential for technical failures, which includes processing and communication failures. It is therefore necessary to investigate how caregivers perceive and respond to robots with erroneous communication. We recruited thirty caregivers, who interacted in a virtual reality setting with a robot. It was investigated whether different kinds of failures are more likely to be forgiven with technical or human-like justifications. Furthermore, we determined how tolerant caregivers are with a robot constantly returning a process failure and whether this depends on the robot’s response pattern (constant vs. variable). Participants showed the same forgiveness towards the two justifications. However, females liked the human-like justification more and males liked the technical justification more. Providing justifications with any reasonable content seems sufficient to achieve positive effects. Robots with a constant response pattern were liked more, although both patterns achieved the same tolerance threshold from caregivers, which was around seven failed requests. Due to the experimental setup, the tolerance for communication failures was probably increased and should be adjusted in real-life situations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with Social Robots)
Show Figures

Figure 1

21 pages, 5447 KiB  
Article
Social Robots Outdo the Not-So-Social Media for Self-Disclosure: Safe Machines Preferred to Unsafe Humans?
by Rowling L. Luo, Thea X. Y. Zhang, Derrick H.-C. Chen, Johan F. Hoorn and Ivy S. Huang
Robotics 2022, 11(5), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11050092 - 7 Sep 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2848
Abstract
COVID-19 may not be a ‘youth disease’ but it nevertheless impacts the life of young people dramatically, loneliness and a negative mood being an unexpected additional pandemic. Many young people rely on social media for their feeling of connectedness with others. However, social [...] Read more.
COVID-19 may not be a ‘youth disease’ but it nevertheless impacts the life of young people dramatically, loneliness and a negative mood being an unexpected additional pandemic. Many young people rely on social media for their feeling of connectedness with others. However, social media is suggested to have many negative effects on people’s anxiety. Instead of self-disclosing to others, design may develop alternatives to employ social robots for self-disclosure. In a follow-up on earlier work, we report on a lab experiment of self-disclosing negative emotions to a social media group as compared to writing a conventional diary journal or to talking to an AI-driven social robot after negative mood induction (i.e., viewing shocking earthquake footage). Participants benefitted the most from talking to a robot rather than from writing a journal page or sharing their feelings on social media. Self-disclosure on social media or writing a journal page did not differ significantly. In the design of interventions for mental well-being, human helpers thus far took center stage. Based on our results, we propose design alternatives for an empathic smart home, featuring social robots and chatbots for alleviating stress and anxiety: a social-media interference chatbot, smart watch plus speaker, and a mirror for self-reflection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with Social Robots)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Review

Jump to: Research

13 pages, 260 KiB  
Review
Siri 2.0—Conversational Commerce of Social Bots and the New Law of Obligations of Data: Explorations for the Benefit of Consumer Protection
by Dagmar Gesmann-Nuissl and Stefanie Meyer
Robotics 2022, 11(6), 125; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics11060125 - 14 Nov 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1776
Abstract
The possibilities and reach of social networks are increasing, designs are becoming more diverse, and ideas more visionary. Most recently, the former company “Facebook” announced the creation of a metaverse. With these technical possibilities, however, the danger of fraudsters is also growing. Using [...] Read more.
The possibilities and reach of social networks are increasing, designs are becoming more diverse, and ideas more visionary. Most recently, the former company “Facebook” announced the creation of a metaverse. With these technical possibilities, however, the danger of fraudsters is also growing. Using social bots, consumers are increasingly influenced on such platforms and business transactions are brought about through communication, i.e., conversational commerce. Minors or the elderly are particularly susceptible. This technical development is accompanied by a legal one: it is permitted by the Digital Services Directive and the Sale of Goods Directive to demand the provision of data as consideration for the sale of digital products. This raises legal problems at the level of the law of obligations and data protection law, whose regulations are intended to protect the aforementioned groups of individuals. This protection becomes even more important the more gullible consumers are influenced by communicative bots. We show that there is a lack of knowledge about what value objective data can have in business transactions. The sufficient transparency of objective data value can maintain legal protection, especially of vulnerable groups, and ensure the purpose of the laws. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Communication with Social Robots)
Back to TopTop