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Title: Conversational gestures in human-robot interaction
Author: Bremner, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 402X
Awarding Body: University of the West of England, Bristol
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2011
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Humanoid service robotics is a rapidly developing field of research. One desired purpose of such service robots is for them to be able to interact and cooperate with people. In order for them to be able to do so successfully they need to be able to communicate effectively. One way of achieving this is for humanoid robots to communicate in a human-like way resulting in easier, more familiar and ultimately more successful human-robot interaction. An integral part of human communications is co-verbal gesture; thus, investigation into a means of their production and whether they engender the desired effects is undertaken in this thesis. In order for gestures to be able to be produced using BERTI (Bristol and Elumotion Robotic Torso I), the robot designed and built for this work, a means of coordinating the joints to produce the required hand motions was necessary. A relatively simple method for doing so is proposed which produces motion that shares characteristics with proposed mathematical models for human arm movements, i.e., smooth and direct motion. It was then investigated whether, as hypothesised, gestures produced using this method were recognisable and positively perceived by users. A series of user studies showed that the gestures were indeed as recognisable as their human counterparts, and positively perceived. In order to enable users to form more confident opinions of the gestures, investigate whether improvements in human-likeness would affect user perceptions, and enable investigation into the affects of robotic gestures on listener behaviour, methods for producing gesture sequences were developed. Sufficient procedural information for gesture production was not present in the anthropological literature, so empirical evidence was sought from monologue performances. This resulted in a novel set of rules for production of beat gestures (a key type of co-verbal gesture), as well as some other important procedural methods; these were used to produce a two minute monologue with accompanying gestures. A user study carried out using this monologue reinforced the previous finding that positively perceived gestures were produced. It also showed that gesture sequences using beat gestures generated using the rules, were not significantly preferable to those containing only naively selected pre-scripted beat gestures. This demonstrated that minor improvements in human-likeness offered no significant benefit in user perception. Gestures have been shown to have positive effects on listener engagement and memory (of the accompanied speech) in anthropological studies. In this thesis the hypothesis that similar effects would be observed when BERTI performed co-verbal gestures was investigated. It was found that there was a highly significant improvement in user engagement, as well as a significant improvement in certainty of data recalled. Thus, some of the expected effects of co-verbal gesture were observed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available