ruud_hortensius Researcher_In_Social_and_Affective_Neuroscience

A popularity contest in the robotic petting zoo

In this interactive public art performance, a small group of iRobot Rooma vacuuming cleaning robots compete in a popularity contest. All of the robots have unique characters specifically developed for this project in collaboration with local community actors. Just like in human life these robots have distinct characters. Some of them are cheerful, others grumpy and another will apologize constantly when bumping into obstacles.














Visitors of the petting zoo can interact with these robots. By feeding their favourite robot with our special robot food, they let us know which one of our petting zoo inhabitants they like best. During the day, the bins of the robots are emptied out in a display, demonstrating which robot has been fed the most, thus is the most popular, and which robot has collected the least food and is the least popular. By feeding the robots, following their lives and personalities, and rooting for them to win the contest, visitors can interact with the petting zoo robots and shape who wins the popularity contest, and thus reveal more about the social relationships humans might forge with artificial agents. 























This project is a collaboration between Merel Bekking, a designer and artist, and Emily Cross and me from Bangor University’s Social Brain in Action lab. During her artist-in-residency in the SoBA lab, Merel worked together with us, programmer Bishakha Chaudhury, and other members of the Social Robots project to create the robotic petting zoo. Visit the website for more information. 


This project is supported by the Bangor University ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.

Gyda chefnogaeth Cyfrif Cyflymu Effaith yr ESRC Prifysgol Bangor. 

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Last update: Jan 15 2018


*Join us for a workshop on “Cognitive and Social Neuroscience Methods for HRI” at the 13th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction held in Chicago (USA) on March 5 2018. Call for papers is now open, check the flyer or the website for more information!


*A popularity contest in the robotic petting zoo! Together with artist-in-residency Merel Bekking, we created an interactive public art performance. In this robotic petting zoo, a small group of vacuuming robots, all with unique characters, competed in a popularity contest. So much fun! Please check this page, the website or this BBC piece for more information.


*Very proud on a forthcoming publication in Current Directions in Psychological Science. Together, with Beatrice de Gelder I propose a new theoretical perspective on bystander apathy that integrates emotional, motivational and dispositional aspects.


*An accepted article in Scientific Reports reports on a project that uses immersive virtual reality to induce a full body ownership illusion that allows offenders to become the victim of domestic abuse. More information on this amazing project I was involved in soon!


*Even more publications, read on the perception of emotions expressed by artificial agents (PsychArXiv pre-print) or humans (article in press in SCAN), or read on how we attribute socialness to artificial agents (PsychArXiv pre-print)!