Although there have been great improvements in the field of robotics in the last fifty years, much work remains in order to introduce androids into our daily life. Rafael Muñoz Salinas, a researcher from de Department of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence of the University of Granada, is the author of a doctoral thesis which represents a major improvement in the interaction between robots and human beings.
His study, entitled ‘Soft-Computing and Computer Vision Techniques Applied to Autonomous robot navigation and Human-robot Interaction’, has managed to develop a series of perception-motor skills which notably improve the natural interaction between robots and human users.
“The aim of our study is to make robots the most accessible tools in our homes and work places, “ explains Rafael Muñoz, “and for this reason, it is necessary to develop techniques which help to increase the level of autonomy of mobile robots”. For this, it is fundamental to minimize human intervention, in order to introduce robots into our lives.
The work performed at the UGR has made it possible to combine the use of vision techniques, as well as flexible computation applied to navigation and perception problems, in order to give robots better movement skills.
“Our second objective is related to the development of perception-motor skills which give mobile robots basic skills of natural interaction”, states Rafael Muñoz. “Because, although robots have to be able to act autonomously, “their purpose is always to serve human beings”.
The study carried out at the UGR has made it possible for a robot to detect humans and interact with them rather than consider them mere obstacles. “The most important aspect is that this communication has to be natural. The use of screens, keyboards or mice in order to communicate can be a limitation when we try to introduce robots into our daily life. It is better to use communication mechanisms more similar to the ones human beings use, such as visual communication, voice, gestures, etc.”, explains the researcher.
The improvements achieved in this field have contributed to the first attempts to use mobile robots in a wide rage of applications in our daily life, such as personal robots, robot pets, guide robots in museums and personal robot assistants for the disabled or elderly.