Robot based project that asks what do we want from robots in our homes and challenges our preconceptions and ethical viewpoints through boredom, fidgeting, and face touching.
My Robot Companion sees artists Alex May and Anna Dumitriu exploring the ethics of social robot appearance and behaviour.
Project website: www.myrobotcompanion.com
Working with the University of Hertfordshire, the artists created a new robot called HARR1 (Humanoid Artistic Research Robot 1) based on a high quality mannequin with its arms and neck replaced by servo motors. The robot is designed to be installed in art galleries for long periods of time and be a modifiable platform for experimenting with robot ethics.
The project is funded by the Arts Council England and the University of Hertfordshire.
HARR1 was exhibited at Watermans gallery in London during September and October 2013. For the installation Alex implemented robot boredom where HARR1 would be looking around somewhat absent mindedly – much as humans do – until it sees people moving, which it will then look towards and follow across the room. If the people stop moving, HARR1 will get bored and look away.
Robot Touching Face
As part of the second Robot House Residency the artists wanted to further explore robot touch. In a few days, Alex wrote a force and tactile feedback control system that used conductive thread sewn into the fingertips of a pair of soft wool gloves, and connected up to a Makey Makey board, so that when the robots hands touched both sides of a human face, the circuit is made and the robot knows to stop moving.
The face was chosen as the touching point as it is particularly sensitive and emotive.