Accepting an object or handing it to another person: What is one of the most natural, simplest actions for humans is a difficult matter for robots. It is not only the physical interaction that requires a certain sensitivity. Where does the other look, is he/she approachable? Unlike robots, humans subconsciously perceive signals that reflect the attention of their counterparts and behave accordingly. In the newly launched collaborative project "Attention-sensitive assistance robots: Interactive Basic Skills"(ASARob), researchers are working on bringing this interpersonal sensitivity to robots. This way, robots will be able to provide effective assistance in everyday situations.
In ASARob, researchers are investigating how a robot can recognize, interpret and direct the attention of its human counterpart via different types of information - textual, auditory, linguistic, spatial and visual. The results will be integrated into existing mobile robot platforms. The system will be geared to the requirements in domestic environments, whereby application-specific evaluation criteria will be developed in consultation with two geriatric centres. As a result, assistance robots will be able to help humans in their household chores or support the nursing and auxilary staff in hospitals and care homes.