About the Lab
Human behavior has been studied from many perspectives and at many scales. Psychology, sociology, anthropology, and neuroscience each use different methodologies, scope, and evaluation criteria to understand aspects of human behavior. Computer science, and in particular robotics, offers a complementary perspective on the study of human behavior.
Our research focuses on building embodied computational models of human social behavior, especially the developmental progression of early social skills. Our work uses computational modeling and socially interactive robots in three methodological roles to explore questions about social development that are difficult or impossible to assail using methods of other disciplines:
Explore the boundaries of human social abilities by studying human-robot interaction
Model social skill development using a robot as an embodied, empirical testbed
Enhance the diagnosis and therapy of social deficits using socially assistive technology
To pursue this research, we must surmount considerable challenges in building interactive robots. These challenges are at the leading edge of a fundamental shift that is occurring in robotics research. Societal needs and economic opportunities are pushing robots out of controlled settings and into our homes, schools, and hospitals. As robots become increasingly integrated into these settings, there is a critical need to engage untrained, naïve users in ways that are comfortable and natural. Our research provides a structured approach to constructing robotic systems that elicit, exploit, and respond to the natural behavior of untrained users.