Several robotic (including humanoid) platforms feature the possibility of haptic communication with the user. Surprisingly, haptics has been little studied in the field of Human-Robot Interaction where researchers mostly investigated facial and gestural interaction. But the physical contact could support additional information, which may influence the affective interaction with the user. The project proposes to address affective haptic interaction with robots by exploiting human’s capacities to express and perceive emotions though the haptic channels. In order to explore this new field, it is necessary to investigate several issues going from the integration of new sensors to the psychological study of expression and perception of emotions via haptics and by a robot.
Based on the Robotic platform MEKA, we propose to integrate a series of tactile and physiological sensors on the robot’s skin (arm, hand, etc.). These sensors will detect the physical behavior and the emotion state of the user. Thereafter, a series of experimental studies will be conducted to identify haptic expressions, physical invariants, and regions of the body of the robot and the user involved in the expression and perception of emotions. These results enable us to propose a model which aggregates affective haptic robot behaviors in interaction with a human user. Finally, the project will take place in the context of children social and educations activities. ). Different scenarios involving children-robot haptic interaction will be investigated: guidance of gestures in learning and educational tasks (robot that guides a child and vice versa), and educational games / riddle with physical contacts.