The Third International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction

Article excerpt

The third international conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI-2008) was held March 12-15, 2008, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The conference was jointly sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) through SIGCHI and SIGART and by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. The conference was organized in cooperation with AAAI, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society. The Naval Research Laboratory, the National Science Foundation, and the European Network for the Advancement of Artificial Cognitive Systems (EU Cognition) provided grants. More than 250 representatives from academia, government, and industry attended HRI2008.

HRI is the premier forum for the presentation and discussion of research results in human-robot interaction. HRI is designed as a single-track, highly selective annual conference that seeks to showcase the very best research and thinking in human-robot interaction. Human-robot interaction is inherently interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, and the conference sought papers from researchers in artificial intelligence, cognitive science, ergonomics, human-computer interaction, psychology, robotics, and other fields.

The theme of HRI-2008, "living with robots," highlights the importance of building core science in HRI so that robots can be employed in everyday environments over the long term. In particular, understanding and identifying the key social and technical issues for robots operating in settings such as home, office, shopping, and museum environments is crucial for developing effective systems. HRI-2008 placed special emphasis on informing the development of companion and assistive robots. It also featured a panel on "robo-ethics" intended to start a discussion of the ethical and societal implications of autonomous robots and a panel on "what is HRI?" that examined the constitutive components of human-robot interaction.

Of the 134 submissions, the program committee accepted 48 full papers and 24 short papers spanning a wide range of topics, including field experiments and user studies, HRI foundations, multimodal interaction, and ethics. A total of 10 videos (out of 27 submissions) were featured in a special session.

HRI-2008 included three workshops and a tutorial. The workshops addressed metrics (an examination of proposed guidelines for evaluating HRI), coding behavioral video data (discussion of methods, problems, and solutions), and robotic helpers (user interaction, interfaces, and companions in assistive and therapy robotics). The tutorial educated participants on experimental design for HRI, with ah emphasis on methodology and test subject selection.

One novel aspect of HRI-2008 was the student robot design competition, which was supported by donations from Lego and National Instruments. Seven student teams competed to build robots using the same set of robot parts (including light, sound, and touch sensors). Students from the University of Amsterdam took top honors for Phobot, a robot that mimics human phobia and overcomes its "fear" through graded exposure.

We were delighted to have Herbert H. Clark (Stanford University, USA), Harold Bekkering (Radboud University, The Netherlands), and Raja Chatilla (LAAS-CNRS, France) provide thought-provoking keynote presentations. Clark, in his presentation titled "Talking as If," proposed to view robots as "staged agents"--not as people, but as depictions of people--and engage them as characters in a staged joint activity. …