According to Californian researchers an intimate touch of a humanoid robot can yield physiological reactions in human beings.
The study reveals there is a lot more to humanoids: a touch is enough to stimulate human response.
In their research they challenged six male and four female volunteers with an Aldebaran Robotics Nao robot around two feet with eyes, ears, legs, arms, torso and the ability to speak and chat with the volunteer’s inviting them to touch or point its body parts. They were asked to use their dominant hand, while wearing a sensor on their non-dominant hand that measured skin conductance which indicates physiological and emotional arousal. In the trials, scientists found that the touch of “less accessible” parts of the robot was more arousing than touching its hands or feet; however no response was measured when the volunteers just pointed.
The scientists reported that whenever the volunteers touched the robots genitals or buttocks a measurable response of arousal was produced in the humans.
According to Jamy Li, a mechanical engineer at the Stanford University in California, who led this study, “Our work shows that robots are a new form of media that is particularly powerful. Social conventions regarding touching someone else’s private parts apply to a robot’s body parts as well. The research has implications for both robot design and the theory of artificial systems.”
This study is among one of the fresh presentations to be made at the 66th annual conference of the International Communication Association in Japan, in the month of June.
The researchers concluded that “Social robots can elicit tactile responses in human physiology, a result that signals the power of robots, and should caution mechanical and interaction designers about positive and negative effects of human-robot interaction.”
However the research has raised many questions that are still to be answered; robots might assist humans in many ways in future but what type of relationship will people have with these robots?