Human-robot interaction is more than just providing a natural form of communication (spoken language, pointing, etc.) for a better “natural” user interface, it is about how the human and robot work together as a joint cognitive system to get the job done. Hmmm, the idea of a human and robot working as a team seems an appropriate for describing how teleoperation works, but not if the robot was delegated a task to handle autonomously (aka taskable agency).  Well, consider J.A.R.V.I.S.  in the Iron Man movies. Even when J.A.R.V.I.S. is acting autonomously while Tony is doing something else, J.A.R.V.I.S. has to understand Tony’s intent (or anticipate Tony’s real intent), report back when done, or let him know if something is going wrong. This is why it is called an “interaction” instead of a “interface”- the fundamental transactions between Tony and J.A.R.V.I.S. are more than Tony selecting options or delegating tasks or J.A.R.V.I.S. giving an audible warning, they are bi-directional cognitive transactions.


See the RTSF human-robot interaction topic below for books and movies that touch on human-robot interaction. Robotics Through Science Fiction: Artificial Intelligence Explained Through Six Classic Robot Stories has a chapter on HRI which provides a light introduction using the ultimate tale of a social robot: Super Toys Last All Summer. A good technical introduction to the challenges in creating a team mate like J.A.R.V.I.S. is the classic paper Ten Challenges for Making Automation a Team Player

July 18, 2018

Robots: service ‘bots, drones, humanoids

Recommendation: Get it! The good news is that there is no sophomore slump, volume 2 of The MurderBot Diaries is as fun as the first one. So reading it is not murdering time, it’s a stay-cation!

MurderBot is back in time for summer...

July 16, 2018

Robots: humanoids, teleoperated reconfigurable robots

Recommendation: Read this classic novel and expand your horizons about robots and science fiction writers that don’t publish in English. 

Stanislaw Lem was one of the most read science fiction authors in the world in...

June 2, 2018

What it gets right about robots: telecommuting, embodied mediation

Recommendation: It’s Scalzi. And robots. Do I need to say more? Stop what you’re doing and read these droll, delightful books now. And you don’t have to read the books in order, but it is more fun that w...

May 25, 2018

Robots:  humanoids, squarish service bots, those floating creepy military droids   

What it gets right about robotics:  not much beyond establishing that a robot can have a female voice and not be a sexbot.   

Recommended watching:    Wait u...

May 22, 2018

Robots: Humanoid.

What it gets right about robots: Nothing.

Recommendation: The Wrong Unit is the right book for quick fun, who cares if it isn’t accurate: Get it now!

What if Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang was a robot assigned to “help” people after the Robot Upris...

May 7, 2018

Robots: service ‘bots, human-robot interaction, emotions, software architecture

Recommendation: Take a break from reading dark, ponderous sci-fi and enjoy a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid that has as many memorable characters and funny scenes as Avengers: Infinity Wars. And reme...

April 30, 2018

Robots: Humanoids

Recommendation: Save your time and money and get a copy of Marge Piercy’s 1991 award winning novel He, She and It which has deep relationships and a plausible science narrative. 

Red alert! Red alert! It’s not really science fiction, it’s a romance nove...

March 26, 2018

Robots: Exoskeletons or mecha

What it gets right about robotics: nothing.  But along with Pacific Rim, it is a teachable moment about control and exoskeletons.

Recommended reading: Great story, just don’t get distracted by the lousy robotics. 

The highly enjoyable Themis...

March 5, 2018

What R2D2 and BB-8, the lovable astromechs from the Star Wars movies, can tell us about real robots.

Read the full article here...


Guest article on NASA Johnson Space Center's Robonaut



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