TedxBristol Speakers 2015

Dr Paul Bremner Via A Robot Avatar

Being There Even When You Can't Be There

Time: 14:20 PM

Excitingly this is the first use of a humanoid robot avatar to deliver a talk on the TEDx stage, a system built to help us connect with others when our own physical presence isn’t possible.

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory, as part of The Being There project, have developed a prototype system to allow a person to communicate using a humanoid robot as a social avatar: the robot copies their movements and relays sound and vision, so they are embodied by the robot.

Being There is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and is a collaboration between five UK universities, which examines interaction between humans and semi-autonomous robots in public spaces. The world-class BRL team are investigating whether the use of these robot avatars allows people to have rewarding remote interactions which can foster rapport, trust and engagement with others. To analyse these interactions they are using a range of sensing technologies to detect key social signals such as people's emotional state. They will then compare this data for face to face interactions with those involving a robot avatar, in a range of sociology and psychology based experiments. The research is leading the thinking on how to evaluate and develop autonomous social robots of the future.

The TEDxBristol audience has the unique opportunity to be part of this experiment, as the BRL team gauge how well we receive a talk delivered using a robot avatar; a talk about the Being There project, and the potential for humanoid robot avatars to help us connect.

As the lead researcher at BRL working on the Being There project, Paul Bremner will be delivering the talk embodied in the humanoid avatar. His primary research focus is on human-robot communication, particularly using hand gestures along with speech. The BRL is based at UWE and is a unique collaboration of leading scientists from universities across the South West.

My great expectation for the future is...

…robots will become cheap, and intuitive to use and interact with, and hence will become ubiquitous in our environment.

Watch Dr Paul Bremner Via A Robot Avatar's TedX 2015 talk here: