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Socially Assistive Robotics
Dr. Brian Scassellati
Professor of Computer Science, Cognitive Science, and Mechanical Engineering
Director, NSF Expedition on Socially Assistive Robotics
Tuesday, March 11th, 4:00 pm CEER 001
Robots have long been used to provide assistance to individual users through physical interaction, typically by supporting direct physical rehabilitation or by providing a service such as retrieving items or cleaning floors. Socially assistive robotics (SAR) is a comparatively new subfield of robotics that focuses on developing robots capable of assisting users through social rather than physical interaction. Just as a good coach or teacher can provide motivation, guidance, and support without making physical contact with a student, socially assistive robots attempt to provide the appropriate emotional, cognitive, and social cues to encourage development, learning, or therapy for an individual. In this talk, I will review some of the reasons why physical robots rather than virtual agents are essential to this effort, highlight some of the major research issues within this area, and describe some of our recent results building supportive robots for teaching social skills to children with autism spectrum disorder and for teaching nutrition to typically developing children.