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RoboHost - Social robots accelerating the transition to sustainable transport

The driverless bus has many advantages, being for example a decrease in the number of accidents and a reduction in carbon emissions. But taking the driver out of the vehicle also means that there is no longer physical supervision in the bus, nor is there a point of contact for questions from passengers. Social robots could be a viable opportunity to substitute the interpersonal aspect of the bus driver.

These robots are artificial intelligence systems that are designed to communicate and interact with other robots and with humans. The idea behind the implementation of social robots in driverless public transport is to increase the perceived level of safety of passengers, and with that boost its attractiveness. If successful, the social robots could also be deployed in traditional public transport.

While one might have previously thought that human-like machines were just for science fiction movies, social robots have rapidly become more advanced and are nowadays even tested in real-life applications. Unique human characteristics, such as neck movement, eye gaze and lip syncing have increased the robot’s validity. Now the challenge lies in designing robots that can cope with the messy and unpredictable behaviour of humans. Successful application of social robots is already found in various (medical) environments, but are new in public spaces. Therefore, it is vital to systematically assess what factors contribute to the feeling of safety of passengers, how the Furhat robot could contribute to this and how an improved feeling of safety can be measured.

Funding: Energimyndigheten

Duration: 2020-08-01 - 2024-07-31