Abstract: In this paper, we present a view of robots as physical agents submitting to a static infrastructure, allowing a computerized static system to use the robot as a dynamic puppet, which is a social agent that can communicate on physical and social terms with its human users and visitors. We demonstrate our approach with Ningyō of the CAVE, a prototype designed to allow a virtual reality CAVE facility to introduce its capabilities to human users and visitors. Through the robot, the CAVE is able to highlight capabilities and uses of the facility through performance, showmanship and physical actions to create an engaging interaction that conveys an overview of the facility and demonstrates its key functionalities. We examine the quality of the resulting engagement with preliminary reflection by several human visitors to our CAVE system. We believe that viewing robots as components of a greater and more capable computerized ecosystem is a less explored research path in social human-robot interaction, and hope that our Ningyō of the CAVE prototype could set the stage and inform some of the future research on this topic.

Researchers: Nico Li, Stephen Cartwright, Ehud Sharlin, Mario Costa Sousa