Abstract: Humans are naturally prone to adapt to others, modulating their actions, tones, and behaviours in relation to the needs of the interacting partners, which are often inferred just from implicit non-verbal signals. The aim of our research is to port this ability to robots, by making them more considerate of humans. We aim at enabling robots to maintain a model of humans, in order to understand and predict their intentions and limitations, while being transparent, legible and predictable in their own behaviours. To achieve this goal, we investigate the sensory, motor and cognitive bases of human social abilities, by using robots as ideal, controllable probes to test and model the dynamics of human interaction. We then study how to integrate these perceptual, behavioural and cognitive abilities into a cognitive architecture relying also on memory, motivation and anticipation, to support social awareness, adaptability and autonomous learning. As a result, we contribute to a more profound comprehension of human cognition through a constructive and embodied approach, with the technological goal of developing more intuitive and adaptable robots. The goal is to advance research on cognitive robotics for human-robot interaction with the support of a multidisciplinary team, including expertise in robotics, computer science, neurophysiology, cognitive science and philosophy.
About the speaker: Alessandra Sciutti is head of the CONTACT (COgNiTive Architecture for Collaborative Technologies) Unit of the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT). She received her B.S and M.S. degrees in Bioengineering and the Ph.D. in Humanoid Technologies from the University of Genova in 2010. After two research periods in USA and Japan, in 2018 she was awarded the ERC Starting Grant wHiSPER (www.whisperproject.eu), focused on the investigation of joint perception between humans and robots. She participated in the coordination of the CODEFROR European IRSES project (https://www.codefror.eu/). She is currently Associate Editor for the International Journal of Social Robotics, the IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems and Cognitive System Research. The scientific aim of her research is to investigate the sensory and motor mechanisms underlying mutual understanding in human-human and human-robot interaction. More details on her research are available via the Contact Unit website: https://www.iit.it/it/web/cognitive-architecture-for-collaborative-technologies/home