From the 11th to the 13th of March 2015 the European Robotics Forum took place in Vienna. I participated in our group workshop on Natural Interaction with Social Robots. It was fused with two other workshops proposed for ERF 2015, (1) On Robot’s Social Intelligence and (2) Natural Interaction Capabilities with End User Development (for Social Robots). In the second session I gave a talk on “User involvement as key to success for natural HRI with social robots?” The talk covered of user involvement, underlying the need to develop user-centered robots that are able to understand context. I presented our work on the HOBBIT project as example; pointing out the fact that our exploitation team win the “Commercial Viability Award” at the i2c innovation event (www.informatik.tuwien.ac.at/i2c/start-academy). A summary of the whole workshop can be found here: http://homepages.stca.herts.ac.uk/~comqkd/TG-NaturalInteractionWithSocialRobots.html).
From 28th of February to 5th of March I attended the HRI 2015 conference in Portland, Oregon. Besides the fact that I noticed that my jet lag troubles increase every year, it was a great experience (and at least I was only trapped by snow and nice on the East cost on my way back and not like many other friends on the way to the conference).
This year I was a panellist at the HRI Education Workshop: How to design and teach courses in Human-Robot Interaction organised by Carlotta A. Berry, Cindy L. Bethel, and Selma Sabanovic on the topic: “Teaching HRI in other disciplines”. My co-panelists were Guy Hoffman and Jenny Burke. It was interesting to see that teaching HRI does not seem to vary that much across disciplines. Most HRI courses attempt project-based interdisciplinary work as an approach, independently of the course being taught at a computer science department or elsewhere.
My biggest honour was that I was invited by Megan Strait and James Kennedy to hold the closing keynote at the HRI pioneers workshop. The focus of my talk was on the challenges of interdisciplinary research and coping strategies, as well as on carrier building opportunities and academic services (and a little overview on my research activities on user-centered HRI). I got really interesting questions from the PhD students and follow-up discussions at the dinner. Interestingly, I also got the feedback that Bilge Mutlu partly gave different recommendations in his opening keynote than I did, but students considered this very valuable as it showed different ways to the same goal.
And a final existing news: It was decided in the Steering Committee Meeting that HRI 2017 will take place in Vienna. Manfred Tscheligi and Bilge Mutlu will be General Chairs and Jim Young and I will serve as Program Chairs.