Project On People And Robots

The Project on People and Robots is investigating the effects of anthropomorphism in robotic design, and how robotic behavior and appearance shapes people's interactions with robots. Dr. Sara Kiesler leads the project.

The Project on People and Robots is a spinoff of the Nursebot project, based on Pearl the Nursebot. Pearl's development was lead by Sebastian Thrun, who is also known for recently directing the Stanford Racing Team's autonomous Volksagen Tourareg to win the $2 million prize in the DARPA Grand Challenge, a 132 mile dessert racing competition between robotic vehicles.

In March, 2004, the Project on People and Robots was in a 5 minute clip on Discovery Channel Canada. You can watch it here. The Nursebot and Project on People and Robots have recieve plenty of press in other places, too. See partial list of press.

My title is "Lab Technical Director," and I work on every technical aspect of the Project on People and Robots. I do robotics programming, web surveys, experimental design, some management, and some statistical analysis.

My experiments have various aspects of the anthropomorphism of humanoid robot, including experiments on the gender and face of the robot, the robot's personality, and dialogue style. I've also helped build a robotic walker for walking support that parks itself and provides navigational assistance [see paper].

In order to run these experiments and develop the robot, I and students I've managed have built drivers and a GUI to control the robotic head, and built a conversational interface based on AIML, but much more powerful (paper forthcoming). We heavily revamped and combined these technologies for faster performance, more flexible and better recognition of text (including spelling errors), and with several layers of conversational technology for handling different types of responses.

Publications For People And Robots [see all]
A. Powers & S. Kiesler. The Advisor Robot: Tracing People’s Mental Model from a Robot’s Physical Attributes, Human-Robot Interaction Conference (HRI 2006). [pdf]

C. Torrey, A. Powers, M. Marge, S. Fussell, & S. Kiesler. Effects of Adaptive Robot Dialogue on Information Exchange and Social Relations, Human-Robot Interaction Conference (HRI 2006). [pdf]

A. Powers, A.D.I. Kramer, S. Lim, J. Kuo, S-L. Lee, & S. Kiesler. Eliciting Information from People with a Gendered Humanoid Robot, RO-MAN 2005, Vanderbilt, TN, August 13-15, 2005. [pdf]

J. Goetz, S. Kiesler, & A. Powers. Matching robot appearance and behavior to tasks to improve human-robot cooperation. Proceedings of the 12th IEEE Workshop on Robot and Human Interactive Communication. RO-MAN 2003, Oct. 31 - Nov. 2, Millbrae, CA. Best Paper Award, Ro-Man 2003. [pdf]

J. Glover, D. Holstius, M. Manojlovich, K. Montgomery, A. Powers, J. Wu, S. Kiesler, J. Matthews, & S. Thrun. A Robotically-Augmented Walker for Older Adults, Carnegie Mellon University Technical Report CMU-CS-03-170, 2003. [pdf]