A revolutionary robot called Baxter is the star component of the psychology department study. Baxter is a humanoid robot designed to work safely and collaboratively with people, the first publically available industrial robot to do so.
Canterbury Professor Deak Helton says the aim of the research is to better understand the impact of this kind of technology on humans. This arises from the recognition that robots, and in particular humanoid robots, are probably going to be increasingly present in our work-places in the future, he says.
“If robots and people are going to work together in more complex cooperative tasks, it may be necessary to have robots display emotions. But a robot that displays emotions may influence people in unintended ways…A safe human-robot environment is one where misunderstandings between the person and the machine (robot) do not happen often.”
Helton says the future will have robots and they will change society.
“We need to know how to make human-robot interaction safe and enjoyable for people. If we get this stuff wrong things could go bad, really bad. Psychology is extremely critical whenever humans and machinery interact.
“Will people view them with trust or distrust? Will people become excessively attached and addicted to their robots and thus, become disconnected from other people? “
Baxter, who will be interacting with a number of post-graduate psychology students this year, is different from other industrial robots because it can learn, Helton says. It can even express its confusion when something isn’t right. He says it can be used for simple industrial jobs such as loading, unloading, sorting, and handling of materials.
Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription, an Idealog t-shirt and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).