MultiModal Mall Entertainment Robot (2016-2019)

Acronym: MuMMER
Funding Agency: Horizon 2020 – European Commission
Duration: 42 months (March 2016 – July 2019)
Coordinator: Mary Ellen Foster
GLASOR Team: Mary Ellen Foster, Alessandro Vinciarelli and two Research Assistants (TBA)
Total Budget: Euros 5,345,135 (Euros 815,178 for the University of Glasgow)

The project proposes to address the important and growing market of consumer entertainment robotics by advancing the technologies needed to support this area of robotics, and also by explicitly addressing issues of consumer acceptance, thus creating new European business and employment opportunities in consumer robotics. Specifically, the project will develop a humanoid robot (based on Aldebaran’s Pepper platform) able to engage and interact autonomously and naturally in the dynamic environments of a public shopping mall, providing an engaging and entertaining experience to the general public. Using co-design methods, the project will work together with stakeholders including customers, retailers, and business managers, to develop truly engaging robot behaviours, including telling jokes or playing games, as well as providing guidance, information, and collecting customer feedback. Crucially, the robot will exhibit behaviour that is socially appropriate, combining speech-based interaction with non-verbal communication and human-aware navigation. To support this behaviour, the project will develop and integrate new methods from audiovisual scene processing, social-signal processing, high-level action selection, and human-aware robot navigation. Throughout the project, the robot will be deployed in a large public shopping mall in Finland: initially for short visits to aid in collaborative scenario development, co-design, and system evaluation, and later for a long-term field study in the 4th year of the project. Through the co-design approach, the project will both study and foster acceptance of consumer robots and thus positively influence the consumer markets of service robots.

Partners: University of Glasgow (UK), Heriot Watt University (UK), Idiap Research Institute (Switzerland), CNRS (France), Aldebaran Robotics (France), Teknologian tutkimuskeskus VTT Oy (Finland) and Kiinteistö Oy Ideapark AB (Finland).

School Attachment Monitor (2015-2018)

Acronym: SAM
Funding Agency: EPSRC
Duration: 36 months (September 2015 – August 2018)
PI: Stephen Brewster
GLASOE Team: Alessandro Vinciarelli (co-I) and a Research Assistant (TBA)
Total Budget: £776,875 (£776,875 for the University of Glasgow)
Website: School Attachment Monitor

The goal of SAM is to make large-scale Attachment screening possible by reducing time and costs required for Manchester Child Attachment Story Task (MCAST) assessment. The approach consists of automating the key steps of MCAST to 1) reduce the time needed to complete the test (higher efficiency) and, 2) allow the involvement of personnel with no MCAST training (lower costs). The automation of MCAST is also expected to provide new insights into Attachment and its observable, machine detectable behavioural markers, enabling better future measurement of Attachment. The project will develop a computer-based tool which can be used to measure Attachment across the population in a rapid, cost-effective way to support MCAST assessors. The children will be custom writing essay guided through the story vignettes by an on-screen avatar. With SAM, the screening sessions and preliminary data analysis can be done without the presence of trained MCAST assessors; they would only be needed if a child was tagged as being in one of the problem categories, where a standard MCAST assessment would be undertaken, allowing large-scale population screening of Attachment patterns for the first time. The development of SAM and the rapid screening of Attachment in large groups will create a paradigm shift in the treatment of child psychiatric disorders.

Partners: University of Glasgow (UK), Glasgow City Council and National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.