On 15thand 16thof May 2018 fifteen students from the University of Erfurt (Germany) were guest of an international seminar, organized by the NuMe Laboratory of the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Physics, at the Pordenone Polyfunctional Center of the University of Udine.

The objective of the two days of work was to deepen the knowledge on a current and evolving theme, the Social Robots, by sharing the research results obtained at the universities of Udine and Erfurt and through the joint realization of new experiences.

In addition to the students of the University of Erfurt, accompanied by the Professor Joachim Höflich and Dr. Markus Seifert, the students of the Social Robotics course took part in the seminar, coordinated by the Professor Leopoldina Fortunati, director of the NuMe (New Media) Laboratory and those of the course of Theories and Techniques of Digital Media, coordinated by the Professor Manuela Farinosi. The former have actively contributed to the planning and to the organization of the two days.

Some of the NuMe Laboratory technologies were presented to the students: the telepresence robot “Padbot”, “Joybot”, a play robot, and “mBot”, used for experiences of educational robotics and coding in the middle school. There have been proposed two researches, focused on how Padbot and mBot were perceived and developed following two different methodologies.

The first day an experiment took place with Padbot, in a public area of the Pordenone University (the bar). The robot, led by a student located in another room through an interactive application for smartphones, was made to move among the students and “communicate” with them, without showing how and by whom it was controlled. The students of both universities were involved in the research; after the passage of the Padbot, a short questionnaire on the cognitive and emotional reaction felt by the bystanders was distributed among them.

The second experiment, on Mbot, took place the following day at the NuMe Laboratory.

The students of the two universities were invited to wear, one at the time, the helmet of an OpenBCI electroencephalograph (made with the laboratory 3D printer) and to undergo to the recording of brain electrical activity generated by the observation of the mBot robot involved to follow a close path, identified in a black line. Also in this case, ended the experience, each student was invited to complete a questionnaire.

The Udine-Erfurt seminar also provided opportunities for sharing researched and discussion experiences, in which the students presented the results that had emerged in the respective courses.

There were presented the following topics:

  • Degrees of Empathy: Humans’ Empathy towards Humans, Animals, Robots and Objects, Alan Mattiassi, NuMe Lab
  • The influence of robot’s physical appearance on children’s and student’s perception of robots, Katharaina Bähr, Elise Schmidt, Alilza Stelzlel, ErfurtUniversity
  • Educational Robotics: a literature review, Alessandra Bravin, Dario Muccignat, UdineUniversity
  • The three laws of robotics, Hena Hatifi, Marvin Minner, Università di Erfurt (Realistic) Future with Robots, Elisa Donatt, Anna Lüdecke, Allisa Kipp, ErfurtUniversity
  • Robot Mirror, a smart way to know you, Simone Melis, UdineUniversity
  • Social Robots and the Domestic Sphere, Carla Behrens, Lina Dingler, Anna Sophie Gros, Lucy Huschle, Christine Müller, Ute Rekers, ErfurtUniversity
  • Robots, women and the domestic sphere, Fabio Bambini, Noemi Capitani, Chiara Marchetti, Francesco Rizzetto, UdineUniversity
  • A nice Sunday: a report from a visit to an opera from Wagner – Der fliegende Holländer/the flying Dutchman, ErfurtUniversity
  • Scratch Me Five: an experiment for the introduction of creative computing in Sardinia, Andrea Zuncheddu, UdineUniversity