I am a social scientist whose research can be situated at the intersection between social human-robot interaction, assistive and educational technologies, and multimodal and affective interaction. I am interested in studying the emotional and social linkage that the interaction with social robots triggers, how this can be used for assistive and educational purposes, and how it might impact and shape our society.
My research builds upon two core strands. On the one hand, I am interested in studying people’s perceptions of robots and their emotional states during the HRI (Human-Robot Interaction) and identifying behavioral and physiological correlates of such states and perceptions. On the other hand, I am keen on investigating the ethical and societal consequences of Social Robotics. With ethical consequences, I refer to critical reflections on the current use and design of social robots with the aim of developing frameworks for the ethical deployment of robotic technologies in real-life contexts. With societal consequences, instead, I refer to potential challenges (e.g., bias, stereotypes) that the design of and interaction with social robots, especially humanoid ones, could bring about in our society.
In this sense, I am interested in the following research questions:
- How do humans express social and emotional engagement with social robots in different contexts (e.g., school, nursing home, museum)?
- Which behavioral (verbal and non-verbal) and physiological cues can social robots use to recognize social and emotional engagement in users?
- How can we use the social and emotional engagement with social robots to boost educational and therapeutic outcomes?
- What are the ethical and societal implications of the increasing ability of social robots to empathize with humans?
- What is the impact of the increasing gendering and racialization of robots (especially humanoid ones)?
- How can we leverage on robots to promote societal change (e.g. a more inclusive society)?
By answering these questions, we will not only learn how to improve the interaction with social robots and design more compelling robotic technologies, but we will also build safe robots able to make a difference in society