HUMANOID ROBOTS IN SERVICE CONTEXTS –INSIGHTS FROM SESSIONS WITH END USERS
Arcada UAS (FINLAND)
About this paper:
Conference name: 16th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 13-15 November, 2023
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:The use of humanoid service and social robots in service and hospitality contexts is not common in the Nordics. We have seen that robots, to some extent, are used in service and hospitality contexts in Asia and even in Europe, however, with varying degrees of success. In general, humanoid robots in the service sector are still quite an unusual sight. Often, we see experiments or interactions set up for specific research purposes.
Technology and AI-powered solutions, including robots, are continuously evolving, and it is likely that we will soon see more human-robot interaction (HR) and more humanoid AI-powered robots in different contexts. We can expect the field of robot end-user applications to grow, and with time, we will also see more advanced humanoid robots (Go et al., 2019). To ensure that this happens in a relevant, human-friendly, and sustainable way, we need to study the robots and the way they can interact with humans. We need to study both the evolving technology and human behavior, i.e., the end users (customers, clients) (Lee, 2020; Tondu, 2012; Pinxteren, Wetzels, Rueger, Pluymaekers & Wetzels, 2019). Previous research shows that we need to study HRI and experiences and how the interaction is perceived (Go et al., 2019). This paper aims to increase the understanding of these experiences and the interaction in general.
This paper shares insights from humanoid deployment projects at Arcada UAS in Finland. Arcada acquired their first humanoid social and service robots in early 2020. The development projects focus, among other things, on developing relevant and human-centered use cases for the hospitality and service sectors, such as hotels, restaurants, and retail. Through the project and the research, we also aim to dispel misconceptions and unrealistic expectations of humanoid AI-powered robots and demonstrate how they can be useful in different service contexts. This paper presents some initial insights into end user experiences in the form of robot-human interaction observations from robot whispering training and laboratory experiments.
We have used qualitative surveys to investigate the experiences and the interaction. Data was collected from different workshops or trainings conducted between 2022 and 2023.
Preliminary results from this pre-study, show that interaction must be studied much more to gain a solid and in-depth understanding of how the bots can be used in these contexts in a relevant and ethical way. The workshops were successful in increasing understanding of AI-powered robots and AI in general among the participants. Having the participants act as bot whisperers or operate the robots themselves also increased their understanding of how robots currently can and cannot be used. In that sense, we can say that the paper and the project contribute to developing an understanding of AI and robotics.
Keywords: Humanoid deployment, service sector, social bot, service bot, HRI.