Shadow of a child's hand reaching out to the shadow of a robot's hand

Robotics and society

Exploring the human-machine relationship
We’re advancing the understanding of how technological innovation impacts society’s complex infrastructures and human behaviour. We aim to design robotics and artificial intelligence systems that positively support our sociotechnical environment.

Our world is rapidly changing as robotics, automation and pervasive information and communication technologies become embedded within our social, environmental and economic spheres.

These “intelligent” devices are becoming ubiquitous with an increasing reliance on machine-to-machine interaction and human-machine systems.

It is therefore essential to understand, evaluate and design our relationship with those intelligent systems, taking into consideration how developments in the specific technology and the application areas are framed in a societal context.

This includes advancing our understanding of the value of these technologies and to examine its potential impact, considering, ethical, political, legislative and economic dimension.

Our key themes are:

  • human-robot interaction, communication and collaboration
  • robot motion and performance
  • social robotics and design
  • social impact of robotics and artificial intelligence

Our research

Our experts: Dr Naoko Abe, Associate Professor Dagmar Reinhardt, Associate Professor David Rye, Dr Amanda Card, Dr Lian Loke

Our collaborators: Professor Mari Velongaki (UNSW), Ms Sue Healey

This project aims to understand the construction of meaning: ‘collaborative’ and ‘non-collaborative’ robot through its motion during the interaction with robot. It questions to what extent people evaluate the robot motion as ‘collaborative’ on ‘non-collaborative’ during accomplishing a task with a robot. By referring to sociological perspective, our approach is to consider that the people’s perception of robot motion is a social construction. The understanding from this sociological approach will provide new insights and a rich source of knowledge that can be used by roboticists and designers to better shape robot behaviour during interactions.

Our experts: Dr Naoko Abe, Professor Kai Reimer, Dr Chris Chesher, Dr Justine Humphry, Mr Mike Seymour

Our collaborator: Dr Arisa Ema, (University of Tokyo, Japan)

As societies experience rapid technological changes, dramatic impacts in economic, societal, educational, policy and ethical domains may result. This project brings together researchers and experts from different disciplines to explore the possible consequence of adopting emerging technologies into our everyday life in the political, ethical, societal and design landscapes.

Our experts: Dr Naoko Abe, Professor Eduardo Nebot, Dr Chris Chesher, Dr Justine Humphry

Our collaborator: Dr Chihyung Jeon (KAIST, South Korea)

Funding agency: Australia-Korea Foundation 2019-2020 

The project aims to establish a long-term collaboration among Australian and Korean experts in innovation and technology in order to exchange knowledge and advance mutual understanding of the deployment of robots and smart technologies in public space. Mobile robots such as guide robots or small autonomous vehicles are being increasingly employed to assist people of a wide range of abilities to interact in public urban spaces such as airports and pedestrian/shared zones. Successful adoption of such new technology relies not only on high-performing technologies but also on knowledge of the socio-technical environment and cultural processes of adoption.