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Synchronicity Trumps Mischief in Rhythmic Human-Robot Social-Physical Interaction


Conference Paper


Hand-clapping games and other forms of rhythmic social-physical interaction might help foster human-robot teamwork, but the design of such interactions has scarcely been explored. We leveraged our prior work to enable the Rethink Robotics Baxter Research Robot to competently play one-handed tempo-matching hand-clapping games with a human user. To understand how such a robot’s capabilities and behaviors affect user perception, we created four versions of this interaction: the hand clapping could be initiated by either the robot or the human, and the non-initiating partner could be either cooperative, yielding synchronous motion, or mischievously uncooperative. Twenty adults tested two clapping tempos in each of these four interaction modes in a random order, rating every trial on standardized scales. The study results showed that having the robot initiate the interaction gave it a more dominant perceived personality. Despite previous results on the intrigue of misbehaving robots, we found that moving synchronously with the robot almost always made the interaction more enjoyable, less mentally taxing, less physically demanding, and lower effort for users than asynchronous interactions caused by robot or human mischief. Taken together, our results indicate that cooperative rhythmic social-physical interaction has the potential to strengthen human-robot partnerships.

Author(s): Naomi T. Fitter and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Book Title: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Robotics Research (ISRR)
Year: 2017
Month: December

Department(s): Haptic Intelligence
Bibtex Type: Conference Paper (inproceedings)

Address: Puerto Varas, Chile
State: In press


  title = {Synchronicity Trumps Mischief in Rhythmic Human-Robot Social-Physical Interaction},
  author = {Fitter, Naomi T. and Kuchenbecker, Katherine J.},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the International Symposium on Robotics Research (ISRR)},
  address = {Puerto Varas, Chile},
  month = dec,
  year = {2017},
  month_numeric = {12}