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TERESA: Telepresence Reinforcement-learning Social Agent

Project Number: 611153
Project Manager: Prof. dr. Vanessa Evers
Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Tel.: +31-53-4893686
Email: v.evers@utwente.nl

Summary

TERESA aims to develop a telepresence robot of unprecedented social intelligence, thereby helping to pave the way for the deployment of robots in settings such as homes, schools, and hospitals that require substantial human interaction. In telepresence systems, a human controller remotely interacts with people by guiding a remotely located robot, allowing the controller to be more physically present than with standard teleconferencing. We will develop a new telepresence system that frees the controller from low-level decisions regarding navigation and body pose in social settings. Instead, TERESA will have the social intelligence to perform these functions automatically.

The project’s main result will be a new partially autonomous telepresence system with the capacity to make socially intelligent low-level decisions for the controller. Sometimes this requires mimicking the human controller (e.g., nodding the head) by translating human behavior to a form suitable for a robot. Other times, it requires generating novel behaviors (e.g., turning to look at the speaker) expected of a mobile robot but not exhibited by a stationary controller. TERESA will semi-autonomously navigate among groups, maintain face-to-face contact during conversations, and display appropriate body-pose behavior.

Achieving these goals requires advancing the state of the art in cognitive robotic systems. The project will not only generate new insights into socially normative robot behavior, it will produce new algorithms for interpreting social behavior, navigating in human-inhabited environments, and controlling body poses in a socially intelligent way.

The project culminates in the deployment of TERESA in an elderly day center. Because such day centers are a primary social outlet, many people become isolated when they cannot travel to them, e.g., due to illness. TERESA’s socially intelligent telepresence capabilities will enable them to continue social participation remotely.

Project duration: 1 November 2013 – 1 November 2016
Project budget: 3.9 M-€ / 3 M-€ funding
Number of person/months: 341 person months
Project Coordinator: UNIVERSITEIT VAN AMSTERDAM
Participants: UNIVERSITEIT VAN AMSTERDAM, UNIVERSITEIT TWENTE, UNIVERSIDAD PABLO DE OLAVIDE, IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICINE, GIRAFF TECHNOLOGIES AB, CENTRE EXPERT EN TECHNOLOGIES ET SERVICES POUR LE MAINTIEN EN AUTONOMIE A DOMICILE DES PERSONNES AGEES
Project budget CTIT: 934.4 k-€ / 701.9 k-€ funding
Number of person/months CTIT: 82 person months
Involved groups: Human Media Interaction (HMI)
CTIT Research Centre:
Centre of Service and Interaction Robotics (CoSIR)