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Softness, Warmth, and Responsiveness Improve Robot Hugs




Hugs are one of the first forms of contact and affection humans experience. Due to their prevalence and health benefits, roboticists are naturally interested in having robots one day hug humans as seamlessly as humans hug other humans. This project's purpose is to evaluate human responses to different robot physical characteristics and hugging behaviors. Specifically, we aim to test the hypothesis that a soft, warm, touch-sensitive PR2 humanoid robot can provide humans with satisfying hugs by matching both their hugging pressure and their hugging duration. Thirty relatively young and rather technical participants experienced and evaluated twelve hugs with the robot, divided into three randomly ordered trials that focused on physical robot characteristics (single factor, three levels) and nine randomly ordered trials with low, medium, and high hug pressure and duration (two factors, three levels each). Analysis of the results showed that people significantly prefer soft, warm hugs over hard, cold hugs. Furthermore, users prefer hugs that physically squeeze them and release immediately when they are ready for the hug to end. Taking part in the experiment also significantly increased positive user opinions of robots and robot use.

Author(s): Alexis E. Block and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Journal: International Journal of Social Robotics
Volume: 11
Number (issue): 1
Pages: 49--64
Year: 2018
Month: October

Department(s): Haptic Intelligence
Research Project(s): How Should Robots Hug?
Bibtex Type: Article (article)
Paper Type: Journal

DOI: 10.1007/s12369-018-0495-2
State: Published
URL: https://rdcu.be/baa1k


  title = {Softness, Warmth, and Responsiveness Improve Robot Hugs},
  author = {Block, Alexis E. and Kuchenbecker, Katherine J.},
  journal = {International Journal of Social Robotics},
  volume = {11},
  number = {1},
  pages = {49--64},
  month = oct,
  year = {2018},
  url = {https://rdcu.be/baa1k},
  month_numeric = {10}