In many futuristic movies, you see robots performing countless day-to-day tasks. Well… the future is here (almost)! For a project funded by COMMIT, we helped create a robot receptionist, named R3D3 (Rolling Receptionist Robot with Double Dutch Dialogue). The aim of this project was to create a combination of a virtual human and a robot capable of verbal and non-verbal interactions with humans. Together with University of Twente’s HMI and RAM, we succeeded in building a robot platform with the technical capacities to realize such interactions.
The R3D3 prototype can drive around, adjust its height, and carries a tablet with a virtual human face. The robot includes technology for speech recognition and speech production, and has FaceReader based computer vision techniques that can recognize gender, age and emotions. In addition, the virtual avatar on the tablet can interact with people. Here we report the results of three pilot studies, carried out to evaluate the performance of the robot and investigate how people reacted to it. Each pilot tested a different target population; shop visitors, police personnel, and children.