Can humans and robots just get along?
Marlena Fraune is in a cafeteria in Japan, waiting to find out how people will interact with trash cans.
These aren’t your average trash cans—they’re sociable robots that bow, turn, spin, and waddle forward and backward on wheels. And Marlena isn’t your average cafeteria patron—she’s a Ph.D. student at IU Bloomington who is studying the psychology of human-robot interaction.
Very adorable in their solid-colored vinyl suits with “hand” appendages that resemble tiny seal fins, the trash cans are part of a collaboration between Marlena’s robotics lab at IU (the R House) and the ICD robotics lab at the Toyohashi University of Technology in Japan. Marlena and her research team are putting the robots in public cafeterias to observe how robot behavior worsens or improves the way humans perceive and interact with them socially.