Periodic Reporting for period 1 - wHiSPER (investigating Human Shared PErception with Robots)
Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2020-08-31
wHiSPER studies, for the first time, how basic mechanisms of perceptual inference are modified during interaction, by moving the investigation from an individual, passive approach to an interactive shared context, where two agents dynamically influence each other. To allow for scrupulous and systematic control, wHiSPER uses a humanoid robot as an interactive agent, serving as investigation probe, whose perceptual and motor decision are fully under experimenter’s control.
One of the crucial limits to the study of perception during interaction has so far been the impossibility of maintaining rigorous control on the stimulation, while allowing for a direct involvement in a dynamic exchange with another agent. The robotic platform makes it possible to port the stimuli used in perceptual investigations to the domain of online collaboration, bringing controllability and repeatability to an embodied and interactive context. The robot becomes either the stimulus presenter or the co-actor in experiments with increasing levels of interactivity, and complements more traditional screen-based investigations, adopted for baseline experiments.
In summary wHiSPER exploits rigorous psychophysical methods, Bayesian modeling and humanoid technologies to provide the first comprehensive account of how visual perception of spatial and temporal world properties changes during interaction with both humans and robots
•  Mazzola C., Aroyo A. M., Rea F., Sciutti A., Interacting with a Social Robot Affects Visual Perception of Space. HRI 2020, ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction. https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/3319502.3374819
•  Belgiovine G., Rea F., Zenzeri J., Sciutti A., A Humanoid Social Agent Embodying Physical Assistance Enhances Motor Training Experience. ROMAN 2020 International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication.
•  Vannucci F., Di Cesare G., Rea F., Sandini G., Sciutti A., Expressive handovers: neural and behavioral effects of different attitudes in humanoid actions IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation - Workshop on Human-Robot handovers https://zenodo.org/record/3936560
•  Tanevska A., Rea F., Sandini G., Canamero L., Sciutti A., Eager to Learn vs. Quick to Complain? How a socially adaptive robot architecture performs with different robot personalities. IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics https://zenodo.org/record/3931277#.XwX_dOfOM2w"
The challenges tackled in this project are of foundational importance. Only by knowing whether and how the very basic input to our system, as perception, changes as a function of the interactive context, will it be possible to understand interaction and social cognition itself. Additionally, the findings can be generalized to perception mediated by a different modalities like touch or audition, as the model of perceptual inference adopted in wHiSPER has been shown to apply also to different senses. wHiSPER will provide also a novel understanding of human-robot interaction, with an innovative way of measuring how the interaction with different agents affects individual perception.
This project will lay the foundations to make autonomous technology adaptive to each user’s perceptual needs. Indeed, the findings of wHiSPER will allow technology to become adaptive to the user to a completely new level. Novel robots will be able to predict potential distortions in the perception of their partners and either adapt to them – i.e. by tailoring their actions to complement those of the human in time and space, e.g. in a passage – or correct them, e.g. by systematically warning them of the inaccuracy and correcting the misperception.