Comprehensible robot communication with the help of patterns

Robots must communicate comprehensibly when interacting with humans. The design solution for this is to use patterns that ensure the comprehensibility of robot behavior and enable a positive user experience.

Even if the main task of robots, such as the cleaning and transport robots from Adlatus Robotics GmbH, is not to interact with passers-by, they must communicate in a way that is understandable to their environment. This is shown by the first research results of the consortium partners Fraunhofer IAO, Ulm University, Institute for Digital Ethics at Stuttgart Media University and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in the ZEN-MRI project. Otherwise, conflicts between humans and robots can arise if, for example, their paths cross or the robot changes its direction of movement unexpectedly for humans.

Fraunhofer IAO is therefore working intensively on the following questions:

– What does the robot need to communicate?

– How can the robot communicate in a way that is understandable to different groups of people?


Behavioral Patterns for Robots

Answering these questions is part of the development of so-called behavioral patterns for robots in public spaces. Patterns are standardized and scientifically evaluated behavioral patterns for robots. They serve as a design solution to recurring problems of human-robot interaction by ensuring the intelligibility of robot behavior and thus enabling a trouble-free encounter between both parties as well as positive user experiences.

Pattern development with a specially developed design process

To develop the patterns, a specially developed design process by Kathrin Pollmann is used. For this purpose, identified, relevant or even critical situations are first analyzed precisely with regard to the goals of users and the resulting responsibilities of the robot. Consequently, it defines what the robot must communicate in order to behave in a comprehensible manner. The next step is a comprehensive research. It looks at how humans and animals communicate the desired information and what best design practices as well as empirical results from human-technology interaction exist. The findings are then tested for their transferability with regard to the respective robots and transformed into initial ideas for reusable behavior patterns. In further workshops, concrete interaction strategies and requirements for the design of the robots emerge from this.

An insight into the results already achieved by Fraunhofer IAO will soon be available here.