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What is Anthropomorphism in HRI?

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HRI is commonly referred to as Human-Robot interaction. It is an emerging field in the robotic environment. It is focused mainly on the notion of how robots interact with a human.

In the 1940s, Isaac Asimov coined the term Robotics and raised many questions regarding the human and robot relationships. Such as,

  • “How much will people trust robots?”
  • “What kind of relationship can a person have with a robot?”
  • “How do our ideas of what is human change when we have machines doing human
  • Like things in our midst?”

Hence, HRI can be distinguished as how robots interact with people in the social world. Such as ASIMO developed by Honda, Humanoid interaction.


HRI is unique due to its interaction with social robots as they are perceived “as social actors bearing cultural meaning and having a strong impact on contemporary and future societies”.

Evolution of HRI or social robots

In 1935, the “social robots” term was used as a derogatory for a person having a cold and distant personality.  In 1978, a “social robot” was used for robots. The article “Interface Age magazine” “social robot” described how service robots need to have additional skills such as obstacle avoidance, balancing, and walking and also operating in a domestic setting.

An early example of social robot or human-robot interaction is Kismet, developed in 1997-2004 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Another example is the Nao robot, developed by Aldebaran robotics (Softbank Robotics Europe). One of the most influential HRI and sold in 2006.

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The Keepon robot was developed in 2003, by Hideki Kozima. It is a minimal robot that consists of two soft yellow spheres with a nose and two eyes. The robot can swivel, bend, and bop using motors. It got later commercialized as a toy in the consumer market.

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Paro, a social companion robot, look-a-like of a baby seal was developed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in 2003 and became particularly known for its social assistive robots in elderly care.

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InMoov robot is an open-source social robot, developed in 2012.

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Kaspar robot was developed in 2009, built with brackets, servo motors, and a surgical silicon mask. It is mainly used in autism therapy.

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Anthropomorphism is the reference to the perception of the human form in non-human form.

Anthropomorphism refers to the attribution of a human form, human characteristics, or human behavior to nonhuman things such as robots, computers, and animals. Hiroshi Ishiguro, for example, develops androids that, for a short period, are indistinguishable from human beings.

However, too anthropomorphic appearance can evoke expectations that the robot might not be able to fulfill. If, for example, the robot has a human-shaped face then the naive user will expect that the robot can listen and talk. To prevent disappointment all developers must pay close attention to the anthropomorphism level of their robots. 

Source:- Anthropomorphism, HRI.

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