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Travis Deyle

interview by   -   November 15, 2014


Full transcript below.
In this episode, Sabine Hauert speaks with Travis Deyle, about his IROS-nominated work on RFID tags, his blog Hizook, and the career path that brought him from academia, to founding his own start-up, and finally working for Google[x].

by   -   August 15, 2013

Robohub.org - robot_facial_expressionsRobots are machines and most people agree that they primarily serve a utilitarian purpose. So why do so many of them have heads? Here are some thoughts by AJung Moon, Mark Stephen Meadows, Travis Deyle, and David Robert.

 

 

AJung Moon
AJung Moon on “Do robots need heads?”

Are you curious about what your future robotic assistants will look like? My bet is that by the time you buy your very first robotic butler, it will have a friendly head on it that moves. In fact, it would be a good idea to make robots with heads if they are intended to share spaces and objects with people. That’s because …

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Mark Stephen Meadows
Mark Stephen Meadows on “Do robots need heads?”

I don’t know about you, but if something has a head I assume it has thoughts. When watching a movie I stare at the character’s face because I want to know what they feel. So for me a head’s a pretty important thing. If I’m going to talk with a robot, …

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Travis Deyle
Travis Deyle on “Do robots need heads?”

The obvious answer to this question is “No: there are lots of robots without heads.” It’s not even clear that social robots necessarily require a head, …

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David Robert
David Robert on “Do robots need heads?”

As a robot animator I can attest to the fact that robots don’t “need” heads to be treated as social entities. Research has shown that people will befriend a stick as long as it moves properly. We have a long-standing habit of anthropomorphizing things that aren’t human by attributing to them human-level personality traits or internal motivations based on cognitive-affective architectures that just aren’t there. …

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Robohub.org-Roboy-headThe obvious answer to this question is “No: there are lots of robots without heads.” It’s not even clear that social robots necessarily require a head, as even mundane robots like the Roomba are anthropomorphized (taking on human-like qualities) without a head. A follow-up question might be, “How are heads useful?” For humans, the reasons are apparent: food intake, a vessel for our brain, a locus for sensors (eyes and ears), and high-bandwidth communication via expression. What about for robots …?

  • Food intake: Probably not.
  • Computational storage: Again, probably not.
  • Location for sensors: Indeed, the apex of a robot is a natural, obstacle-free vantage point for non-contact sensors. But a “head” form factor is not a strict requirement.
  • Emotion and expression: Ah, the real meat of this question… “Do robots need to express emotion?”

This is a funny question to ask someone who once (in)famously advocated for either (A) extremely utilitarian designs: “I want my eventual home robot to be as unobtrusive as a trashcan or dishwasher”, or (B) designs unconstrained by the human form factor: “Why not give robots lots of arms (or only one)? Why impose human-like joint limits, arm configurations, and sensing? We can design our own mechanical lifeforms!”

My views have softened a bit over time. Early (expensive) general-purpose home robots will almost certainly have humanoid characteristics and have heads with the ability to express emotions (i.e. be social) — if nothing else, to appeal to the paying masses. And these robots will be useful: doing my laundry, cleaning my dishes, and cooking my meals. In the early attempts, I will still find their shallow attempts at emotion mundane and I will probably detest the sales pitches about “AI” and “robots that feel.” But as the emotional expressions become more natural and nuanced, and the robots become more capable, I will probably warm up to the idea myself.

TL;DR: No, many robots do not need heads. Even social robots may not need heads, but (whether I want them to or not) they probably will, because paying consumers will expect it.



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