ASTI Mobile Robotics published a white paper named "The robots are coming – and now what? An overview of the state of robot integration in our society and its challenges“ about social integration and the acceptance of robots. The post deals with different topics like the general view of robots in different population groups, the humanization of robots and possible resulting issues, the question about where and to which extent robots should be integrated in our daily lives and introduces at the end a possible profile of a future social robot. The target groups of this paper are companies looking for background knowledge while integrating new technologies as well as interested people from any sector.


Social robotics, robot perception and challenges in society

"Robots are on the rise.“ – This is how the paper starts, since they are essential in the modern, connected Industry 4.0. But besides industry, there is also a trend toward robots that collaborate and interact with humans. Outside of industrial applications, robots are developed for private daily life and experts debate about when robots will be ready to help nursing and elderly caregivers in their daily work. In fact, our new mechanic “colleagues” slowly acquire social skills, and manufacturers like ASTI Mobile Robotics must understand them and take them into account while developing new products. A collaborative robot should technically work, but also be accepted by its human partners.

The acceptance of robots is not always easy. Often, human expectations stay against the robots’ skills, sometimes the robots do not match their operational environment because they lack data, and in some cases people notice stereotypes in the humanization of robots with names and voices, which should be discussed – for example there seems to be a trend to assign a robot male or female characteristics depending on whether their task is associated with men or with women. This triggers negative reactions, since it replicates antiquated roles and stereotypes. In some other cases the so-called “robot anxiety” causes unease with robots and even fear of them. These feelings are acceptable and should be understood and studied. Nevertheless, a society which invests so much in automation should find a way to act against them.

Conclusions of the paper

The paper presents these challenges and looks for possible answers. Sometimes, they are solved by promoting the interaction with robots, diversity in developer jobs or the social debate, and sometimes the robots’ design may represent a solution. Therefore, the paper contains suggestions for possible accurate strategies to deal with the issue of the social integration of robots, and also a draft that explains how a future social robot could look like.

Did we spark your interest?

If you want to learn more about the topics we introduced, please download the paper. Also watch for coming articles by ASTI Mobile Robotics.