Herts robots get into the festive spirit

 1 January 2023 15 December 2023
15 December 2023

Christmas is approaching fast – and this year the residents of Robot House at the University of Hertfordshire are joining in.

As households across the world get ready for Christmas, researchers at the University decided their robot friends also deserved to get into the festive spirit – while giving us a taste of what Christmas in the future could look like.

Robot House in Hatfield is home to several latest-generation robots, all used for the University’s trailblazing human-robot interaction research. Specialising in developing care robots for assisted living, researchers work with the robots to test how they can perform tasks for humans, how people respond to robot companions in their living space, and how robots might become more integrated into our daily lives in future.

With the rise of AI and automated systems in so many aspects of our society, this research is key to not only understanding the potential benefits, but also the challenges and uncertainties of working and living alongside assistive and companion robots.

On a normal day, the robots can be used for a wide range of tasks, offering social, physical and cognitive support – from fetching items or answering the door, to reminding someone to take their medicine or turn the oven off. Others even just provide companionship, such as the Miro pet robot.

However, after all that research and hard work, they’ve earned a break. So this week our robots can be found decorating the Christmas tree, exchanging gifts, handing out mulled wine and grooving to some Christmas classics.

Dr Patrick Holthaus, Senior Research Fellow and Manager of Robot House, said: “We thought it was only fair that before we all down tools for the Christmas break, our robots get to do the same and celebrate the festive season.

“On a serious note, this is a fun way to showcase how robots could become more common in our daily lives, especially for people who need that extra care and support at home. If a robot can pass you a cup of mulled wine or play a party game, think what else it could do for you or your relatives. It could fetch you water regularly to avoid dehydration, help you plan, order and cook meals, and even reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. And perhaps, one day, decorate your Christmas tree.”

Visit the Robot House website to find out more.


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