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"Our first human-robot interaction studies began in the lab, but participants didn't buy into the idea. We realised we needed a more naturalistic environment, something real."
— Kerstin Dautenhahn, Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Founder of Robot House
Robot House is a unique facility for researching human-robot interaction. It provides a realistic home environment where academic and industry researchers can test how robots can provide physical and cognitive support to humans and looks towards a future where robotic companions may play a greater role in caring for older people.
The facility is equipped with the latest generation of robotics platforms, including state-of-the-art care robots for assisted living. Sensor systems and cameras are embedded in the floor, ceiling and domestic appliances; thse systems monitor activity in the house and relay the information to robots so they can respond by offering support to their human co-residents.
Using a network of more than 60 low-energy sensors, the house has been turned into a smart home that can observe a person's activities and make recommendations to the robot inhabitants based on those observations. Sensors are attached to drawers, taps and electrical devices like the kettle, toaster, fridge, television and doorbell while motion sensors and omnidirectional cameras identify and track human activity.
The ground floor of the house resembles a typical suburban home. There is an open-plan living space with sofas and a dining area, fully-equipped kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and conservatory. People can feel at home in a real-life environment while researchers can study interactions and explore new ways to make collaboration between robots and humans more effective.
A small office area acts as the research and IT hub where data on human and robot activity is collected and processed. Our researchers have developed algorithms that allow the smart home system to recognise patterns of activity and make predictions based on a person's typical routine. It can then make judgements on whether to send a robot to offer help.
Meet the resident robots that can participate in research studies inside the Robot House, including the Care-O-bot 4.
Robot House has opened its doors to academia and industry in the UK and internationally. Find out how to access the facility.