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  • CS Colloquium: Alexis E. Block (UCLA) - Towards enhanced social-physical human-robot interaction

    Wed, Dec 07, 2022 @ 01:00 PM - 02:20 PM

    Thomas Lord Department of Computer Science

    Conferences, Lectures, & Seminars

    Speaker: Alexis E. Block, University of California, Los Angeles

    Talk Title: Towards enhanced social-physical human-robot interaction

    Series: Computer Science Colloquium

    Abstract: Hugs are one of the first forms of contact and affection humans experience. Receiving a hug is one of the best ways to feel socially supported, and the lack of social touch can have severe adverse effects on an individual's well-being. Due to the prevalence and health benefits of hugging, we were interested in creating robots that can hug humans as seamlessly as humans hug other humans. However, hugs are complex affective interactions that need to adapt to the height, body shape, and preferences of the hugging partner, and they often include intra-hug gestures like squeezes. In this talk, I'll present the eleven design guidelines of natural and enjoyable robotic hugging that informed the creation of a series of hugging robots that use visual and haptic perception to provide enjoyable interactive hugs. Then, I'll share how each of the four presented HuggieBot versions is evaluated by measuring how users emotionally and behaviorally respond to hugging it. Next, I'll briefly touch on how HuggieBot 4.0 is explicitly compared to a human hugging partner using physiological measures. Finally, I'll share some future directions of my research in the area of social-physical human-robot interaction.

    Alexis E. Block will give her talk in person at GFS 207 and we will also host the talk in real-time over Zoom.

    Register in advance for this webinar at:


    After registering, attendees will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

    Biography: Alexis E. Block is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she is funded by a postdoctoral Computing Innovation Fellowship (CI Fellows) from the US National Science Foundation. She received her Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016, and her Master's in Robotics in 2017, also from Penn. Block received her Dr. Sc. in Computer Science from ETH Zürich in August 2021, as part of the Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems, supervised by Katherine J. Kuchenbecker, Otmar Hilliges, and Roger Gassert. She was awarded an Otto Hahn Medal from the Max Planck Society for her doctoral work and the Best Hands-On Demonstration at EuroHaptics 2022. Block is currently the General Chair for the Robotics Gordon Research Seminar and organized the 2022 Southern California Robotics Symposium that took place in September. Alexis's research has been featured in the New York Times, The Times, IEEE Spectrum (twice), NPR, and Nature Outlook to name a few.

    Host: Heather Culbertson

    Webcast: https://usc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FreWz9MXRQ6XUCLTV096hA

    Location: Grace Ford Salvatori Hall Of Letters, Arts & Sciences (GFS) - 207

    WebCast Link: https://usc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FreWz9MXRQ6XUCLTV096hA

    Audiences: Everyone Is Invited

    Contact: Department of Computer Science


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