HRI Winter school visit on embodied AI 2022

12 December 2022,

by Jacqueline Borgstedt, University of Glasgow

I am Jacqueline Borgstedt and currently I am completing an interdisciplinary PhD with the UKRI CDT for socially intelligent artificial agents at the University of Glasgow. My doctoral research on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) explores how augmenting social robots with haptic modalities affects users’ perception of and relationship with a robot. Moreover, I assess the potential of such multi-modal social robots to aid users in regulating their emotions during stress-inducing situations.

As an interdisciplinary researcher, I aim to bridge methodologies and technologies used across multiple disciplines such as Psychology and Human-Computer Interaction. To achieve this, it is vital to network and collaborate with researchers across multiple disciplines. Furthermore, it is vital to expand my skillset and get a better understanding of technical concepts and methods relevant for Human-Robot Interaction. I was thus interested in participating in a winter school that would allow me to expand my network in the HRI community and to gain a better understanding of such technical concepts.

After looking for suitable winter schools, I decided to apply for the HRI winter school on embodied AI 2022 at Gent University. The winter school was an excellent training opportunity as it attracted an international and diverse pool of researchers, which allowed me to establish novel connections and to meet potential collaborators. Moreover, participation in the program allowed me to engage with influential researchers in the field, whose work I have been following since the start of my PhD.

The program of the winter school closely aligned with my research interests in designing meaningful Human-Robot Interactions that have a positive impact on the individual user as well as the broader society. Some of my personal highlights included a tutorial on participatory design, which helped me to improve the experimental design of my next study. Participating in the winter school has thus had a direct impact on my research practices. Furthermore, there were multiple talks discussing the ethical and societal implications of implementing embodied robots in society. Discussing the ethical considerations of integrating robots in society is vital as researchers have a responsibility to consider how interactions between humans and robots can affect the individual users but also society in general. It was an amazing opportunity to discuss such considerations with other early career researchers and experts in the field. Finally, the diverse program allowed me to gain new technical skills.

At the end of the winter school, I felt better connected with my research community, fueled with enthusiasm, and full of ideas on how to improve my research practices. Without SICSA’s support this would have not been possible. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude for SICSA’s support and would encourage all early career researchers to attend a summer or winter school in their field.