Insights on requirements for robots

What should robots look like? For the participants in the Fraunhofer IAO’s co-creation workshops, safe design is important when it comes to requirements.

How can robots integrate themselves into social interaction in public spaces as trustworthy and considerate everyday helpers? And what requirements do they need to fulfil? These questions are handled by the ZEN-MRI researchers throughout the entire project, as well as in sub-projects of the project partners and in focus topics. During the Fraunhofer IAO co-creation workshops, the focus was placed on the development of innovative additional functions for robots. Previous research has shown that the robots with which the participants came into contact act more like machines and less like social actors. This makes it particularly important to talk more about the requirements for the external appearance and behaviour of robots so that they are understood and accepted.

Safety is important

The current design of the robots was perceived very differently in some cases. Some participants stated that the robot should not look too friendly so that, for example, children are not given the impression that the everyday helper could be somebody to play with. Other participants, on the other hand, wanted the robots to have a more human design and behaviour. Such humanoid robots are modelled on the shape of a human being. What all participants in the co-creation workshops agreed on was the safe design of the robots. They felt this was important so that passers-by could be made aware of the robots. This could be made possible by having sufficient sensors or multimodal communication channels that address different sensory channels, for example through light and sound emitted by the robot.