New Developments on Communication Accuracy of Pepper the Robot

According to news from April 21, 2021, Pepper the robot has improved its interaction abilities. Researchers in Italy developed a bot that “thinks out loud” so people can understand the robot’s thinking processes and better comprehend its motives and judgments. They reasoned that it would enhance the interpersonal experiences of the robot.

Antonio Chella, the co-author of the research, described Arianna Pipitone’s concept in launching the study at the University of Palermo and said, “If you were able to hear what the robots are thinking, then the robot might be more trustworthy.” He also stated that “The robots will be easier to understand for laypeople, and you don’t need to be a technician or engineer. In a sense, we can communicate and collaborate with the robot better.”

Pepper was instructed to break the code of etiquette by putting a napkin on a fork in a simulation, and the bot used its “inner voice” to evaluate the order. The robot inferred that the person was perhaps perplexed, but that they should heed their commands, saying “Ehm, this situation upsets me. I would never break the rules, but I can’t upset him, so I’m doing what he wants.”

Developments on Communication Accuracy of Pepper the Robot

Pepper used self-dialogue to inform the user that it had resolved the situation by emphasizing the human’s appeal. According to the researchers, this type of openness may increase our confidence in robots. They also say it would aid collaboration and problem-solving between humans and robots.

As Pipitone and Chella compared Pepper’s success with and without inner voice, they found that the bot would have a higher mission completion percentage when using self-dialogue. Pepper surpassed the global standard physical and moral standards for interactive robotics, which are followed by devices ranging from humanoid AI to mechanical weapons on the assembly line, thanks to inner dialogue.

Pipitone stated, “People were very surprised by the robot’s ability.” She also added “The approach makes the robot different from typical machines because it has the ability to reason, to think. Inner speech enables alternative solutions for the robots and humans to collaborate and get out of stalemate situations.”

While listening to Pepper’s internal dialogue enhances human-robot interaction, many people might find it impractical since this robot consumes a long time doing tasks while it speaks to itself. The bot’s inner voice is often restricted to the information imparted by the developers. Nonetheless, Pipitone and Chella claim that their research lays the groundwork for more research into how self-dialogue can aid bots in focusing, planning, and learning.