Research Headlines: Alexis Block is teaching robots to give good hugs

01 June 2018

Scientist working in the Haptic Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems receives great media feedback on her research

Alexis Block, a Ph.D. student in the Haptic Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, has been developing HuggieBot, a robot that is designed for giving humans a hug. She has recently published her work in the Proceedings of the International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction and has received a lot of media attention since then.

The modified PR2 robot that stands as tall as an average human is made extra soft using layers of foam, polyester, and other materials. Thirty participants were involved in the study, each of whom received 12 different machine hugs, which they then gave their feedback on.

The video on her study can be found here: https://youtu.be/-xIPeUA3axg

The media feedback on her publication has been phenomenal:

https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/the-importance-of-teaching-robots-to-hug
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/strong-and-non-clingy-robots-give-the-best-hugs-study-reveals-huggiebot-pdx566xk0
https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/why-scientists-are-teaching-robot-hug-ncna882026
https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/robot-really-good-at-hugs/
https://boingboing.net/2018/06/06/why-these-scientists-are-teach.html
https://www.geek.com/tech/this-robot-just-wants-a-hug-1742858/
http://talkradio.co.uk/radio/listen-again/1529020800# (slot 4:30-5:00, minute 8:00)

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