Even as children, we intuitively perceive whether we have the full attention of those we are with.
Researchers now want to teach robots this sensitivity. When they assist in care facilities or private households especially, they should hand over objects only when their human counterpart is not distracted, for example.
"To be able to behave as expected on an interpersonal level, the robot also has to be able to identify what the human counterpart is focused on and understand what their intentions are."
For the project, "Attention-sensitive assistant robot" (ASARob), three Fraunhofer institutes joined forces with the Cognitive Systems Lab of the University of Bremen, Unity Robotics GmbH and SemVox GmbH. The three-year research project has been sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research with a grant of about two million euros.
At the end, guided by its internal software, the robot should not only detect whether it has the undivided attention of the human, but also be able to interpret the person's intentions, and to be able to indicate its own intents with gestures or words.