Dr. Heather Knight is an Assistant Professor of Robotics at Oregon State University, where she runs the CHARISMA Robotics research group. Their research interests include minimal social robots, entertainment robots, and non-verbal human-robot interactions. She also runs Marilyn Monrobot and an annual Robot Film Festival. Past honors include robot comedy on TED.com, a robot flower garden installation at the Smithsonian/Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, and a British Video Music Award for OK GO's "This Too Shall Pass" music video, featuring a two-floor Rube Goldberg Machine.
Her academic background includes a postdoc at Stanford University exploring minimal robots and autonomous car interfaces, a PhD in Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University exploring Expressive Motion for Low Degree of Freedom Robots, and M.S. and B.S. in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she developed a sensate skin for a robot teddy bear. Additional past work includes: robotics and instrumentation at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and sensor design at Aldebaran Robotics.
In an age where machines are increasingly entering our daily lives, social robotics focuses on how robots can successfully interface with people. Those with social intelligence could add value to their environment: engaging users, and eliciting trust, and forming bonds with the people around them. Those that fail to interact appropriately run the risk of becoming irritating and unwelcome. This talk presents Dr. Knight's past work in developing a robotic comedian, operationalizing acting movement training to the design of robot expressive motion, and using robot furniture to convey social roles, persuade users to participate in an experiment, or dance with trained dancers on stage. Knight runs the CHARISMA Robotics Lab at Oregon State University. One unique aspect of this lab the integration of methods and practices from the field of entertainment, and their use of these practices to make robots both functional and expressive. For example, acting training offers methodology for conveying character, motivations, and relationships to a human audience that may benefit the development of everyday robots. Theater also offers both a new application and testing space for robots. Our challenge is to operationalize methods and contexts from the performing arts into the development of robot character and intelligence. Because we work with many simple robots, this often manifests as robot behavioral programming. It turns out that people parse robot behaviors and non-verbal communications intuitively, even from machines that do not look like people.