Research Challenges on
Human-Robot Interaction and Robotic Human Science
JORGE SOLIS-ALFARO, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Waseda University
The research on human-robot interaction (HRI) and robotic human science (RHS) have been an emerging topic of
interest for both basic research and customer application. The studies specially focus on behavioral and cognitive
aspects of the interaction and the social contexts surrounding it. One of the most challenging problems is giving the
robots an understanding of how to interact with human beings at the same logical level so that they may function not as
passive tools, but rather as active agents that can drive the human interaction, instead of merely reproducing a sequence
of movements. Hence, these robots must have higher level cognitive functions that include knowing how to reason,
when to perceive and what to look for, how to integrate perception and action under changing conditions, etc. These
functions will enable robots to perform more complex tasks which require tight human interaction; consequently, the
robots can perform high level interactions (i.e. teaching motor skills to unskilled people, etc.). In this talk, an overview
of the current research on humanoid robots, medical robotics and systems and education robotics will be introduced.
1. Humanoid Robots: Nowadays several researchers have been developing anthropomorphic robots as a research
approach related to RHS to roughly replicate some of the human motor skills such as walking, dancing, etc.
However, such robots are still far away from understanding and processing emotional states as the human does. In
order to overcome this limitation, the research on music still seems particularly promising; since it is a universal
communication medium. Furthermore, the research on music can also provide expressive tools that traditionally
have been hidden in musicians' skills. For that reason, at Waseda University, the research on the Waseda Flutist
Robot and Saxophonist Robot have been carried out as an approach to understand the human motor control from an
engineering point of view as well as introducing novel ways of musical teaching.
2. Medical Robotics and Systems: Certainly, in order to conduct effective learning experiments, the robotic system
must actively interact with humans at the same logical/perceptual level through all the stages of the learning
process. This means that robots should analyze the exchanged information between human and robot to evaluate
learner’s performance and furthermore, to provide some kind of feedback (aural, haptic, visual, etc.) which may
promote the creation of the internal models by the active training of learner on the task so that subjects can
reconstruct accurately the motor skill by reinforcing the kinaesthetic memory. On the other hand, there is the
possibility of studying which parameters of the learning process may lead or break down the acquisition of the
motor skill by modifying the conditions of the experiments. These parameters may include: which feedback
modality is provided (one modality or multimodal), complexity of the skill, learning procedure, number of
repetitions of the task, etc.
3. Education Robotics: Developed countries, as leading nations in scientific research and production of innovative
technological products, hold very large shares in high technology industries. However, the continuous falling of the
birthrate in developed countries is resulting in a reduction in the number of students where most of them are going
away from scientific fields. This situation may tremendously affect the industry by losing competitive power in the
future due to the shortage of talented engineers. For this purpose, we have focused our research in developing more
advanced educational mechatronic tools to motivate their creativity at different educational levels. For this purpose,
we have proposed the development of a two-wheeled inverted pendulum type mobile robot designed to provide
educational issues related to electronics, mechanics, control theory and programming.
Research Institute for Science and Engineering,
2009 ~ Assistant Professor
Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
Department of Modern Mechanical Engineering ,
2006 ~ 2008 Research Associate
Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
Humanoids Robotics Institute, Waseda University,
2003 ~ Visiting Researcher.
2004~2006 Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
2003~2004 Research Assistant PERCRO Laboratory Pisa, Italy
Perceptual Robotics Laboratory (PERCRO). Pisa,
2004 Ph.D. in Robotics
2003 Visiting Researcher Waseda University
Mechanical Engineering Laboratory (now AIST).
2000 Visiting Researcher
Tsukuba Science City, Japan
1998~2000 IBM of Mexico, Mexico
System Electronics The Monterrey Institute of Technology. Toluca,
Engineering Degree Mexico
Laboratoire d'e Analyse et Architecture
1998 Visiting Researcher
d'Systemes, Toulouse, France
Humanoid Robots, Human/Robot Interaction, R-Education and Skill Transfer Systems, Medical Robots and Systems,
Rehabilitation Robots, Mechatronic Systems for Education Purposes, Human Motor Control and Learning, Computer
Vision, Haptic Interface Control and Force rendering, Tele-operation Systems, Gesture Recognition Systems, etc.