Robots, Robots, Robots… roadtrip!

2 min read

At Common Good we think it’s super important to have an understanding of what the future could look like in order to better prepare for, and even help shape it. I’m particularly interested in how advances in technology could evolve my role as a user experience designer as we begin to move away from screen-based interfaces and interactions.

To explore this, within Common Good, we run a regular ‘tech club’. This is a place where anyone who shares an interest in technology can spend time (outside of project work, usually for a couple of hours on a Friday afternoon, often with a drink) learning about new technology though playing, breaking and experimenting with it — fun!

This week tech club headed to Robots at the London Science Museum. The exhibition tells a 500-year story of mechanical humans, tracing our very human obsession with re-creating ourselves as machines. Our minds were well and truly blown (and there were plenty of giggles too). We thought we’d share some of our highlights…

Nexi, USA, 2008

Nexi is a MDS (Mobile Dexterous Social) robot developed by MIT in 2008 and was used to study human behaviour. The highly expressive robot allows researchers to observe how people react to it’s expressions and body language in different situations. Experiments with Nexi are helping researchers identify the subtle behaviours that make us feel comfortable and at ease with robots.

Nexi’s face has 21 individually moving parts, allowing the robot to mimic a wide range of human expressions. Pretty amazing!

Kaspar, UK, 2005–16. On the right is the first Kaspar prototype and on the left is the latest model. 

Kaspar is a humanoid robot that acts as a social companion to improve the lives of children with autism and other communication difficulties. For children with autism interacting with people can be very confusing. This group of children can find it difficult to read other people’s facial expressions and emotional states, or interpret their behaviour. Kaspar is designed to engage children in games where they can learn about communication. In playing with the robot children build up their confidence to socialise with others. It has deliberately exposed robot parts – such as the neck – to avoid giving children the false impression that it is alive, unlike more commercial social robots that are designed to maintain this illusion. We love that Kaspar is a robot used for good.

Read more about autism in education from Fiona our Design Researcher here.

There were too many incredible robots to share so here are a few more of our favourites.

All the best robots!!! 🤖 #robotsindesguise

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Robots is on until Sunday 3rd September. If you’re in London this weekend we definitely recommend stopping by.

Watch out for more new from tech club in the coming weeks.