The Small Robot Company has joined forces with the John Lewis Partnership, strategic design consultancy Method and a number of leading robotics companies and industry bodies in the UK, to develop a blueprint for “Human Robotic Interaction” (HRI) in the 21st century.
This ground-breaking initiative will foster and accelerate the safe and ethical adoption of robotics across British industry. It will also help define how autonomous robotic technology should interact with people in the real world across different environments and sectors including manufacturing, retail and farming.
Robot technology is increasing across all sectors of the economy, with the explosion in autonomous robotics fuelled by Artificial Intelligence. The number of industrial robots active in the UK has grown by 30% according to the International Federation of Robotics highlighting the need for a framework to govern how robots should interact with humans as we start to encounter them in a wide range of everyday scenarios.
The Human Robotic Interaction blueprint will look to define:
- the proper characteristics and states of the robot persona
- how the user/ robot relationship should function
- how robots should be properly programmed – to ensure people find them engaging, trust-provoking and safe
- how a robot should interact within the boundaries of its geospatial map
- how a robot should respond to humans it encounters during the course of its work
The initial principles for the blueprint will be formally presented during a stakeholder consultation event on 1 August at Google’s offices in London.
John Vary, Futurologist at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Britain is a melting pot for robotics innovation and the use of autonomous robot technology to assist human workers is a very real prospect for the future. Before we get there, we need to define how that relationship works. The John Lewis Partnership started out as a radical experiment in industrial democracy and innovation continues to remain at the heart of our business today. Therefore we are uniquely placed to support businesses like the Small Robot Company as this technology evolves.”
Ben Scott-Robinson, co-founder, Small Robot Company, comments: “Real world robotics is set to explode. Powered by Artificial Intelligence, robots are now becoming truly autonomous, and we’re about to see a massive influx of commercial robots in the consumer domain. In our shops, our factories, our hotels, our streets and our fields. It’s vital that consumers can trust and feel comfortable with these encounters. So we’re launching a cross-industry initiative to create a blueprint for robotics in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
Other collaborators on the Human Robotic Interaction initiative include: Method, The Manufacturing Technology Centre, The Turing Institute, Dr Karina Vold of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, robotics designers Konpanion and industrial robotics start-up ZOA Robotics.