Robots are supposed to make life easier.
Interacting with them shouldn't be a chore.

The goal of the Social Robots Project is to overcome the human-robot social barrier. Towards this end, we are in the process of developing a robot which bears a personality, and which can behave according to social conventions. The idea is that communication and interaction with robots should be easy and enjoyable, both for unfamiliar users and trained professionals. We want robots to behave more like people, so that people do not have to behave like robots when they interact with them.

With the continuing computerization of the workspace and home, many people are looking towards the ease of interaction between humans and computers. However, we believe that making the process easy is not enough; it should also be enjoyable.

Vikia is our first step towards this goal. She is a robot with a complex and engaging personality, designed for easy and enjoyable communication. This is made possible through high quality speech and visual recognition, a realistic, developing personality and rich, friendly dialogue and appearance. These elements are combined through the combined skills of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, Human Computer Interaction Institute, and the Entertainment Technology Center.

Another aspect of the project is to enable robots to follow human social conveentions. Humans have all sorts of conventions that make interaction easier, including how to pass each other in hallways, how to go through doors and in and out of elevators, and how to enter and wait in line. We are developing techniques that enable robots to use such social conventions by modifying their nominal behaviors. Eventually, we hope to have the robots learn such conventions on their own.

If successful, Vikia could prove to be an important first step in the development of a wide variety of interaction techniques that would simplify the task of communication with robots and computers in all of their forms, in all areas of our lives.