Groups of humans and robots: Understanding membership preferences and team formation

Authors: Filipa Correia, Sofia Petisca, Patrícia Alves-Oliveira, Tiago Ribeiro, Ana Paiva

Although groups of robots are expected to interact with groups of humans in the near future, research related with teams of humans and robots still appears to be scarce. This paper contributes to the study of humans-robots teams by investigating how humans choose robots to partner with in a multi-party game context. The novelty of our work concerns the successful design and development of two social robots that autonomously are able to interact with a group of two humans in a social and entertaining task. The development of these two characters was motivated by psychological research in Learning Goals Theory in which depending on our learning goal (a goal more orientated either towards relationships or competition), we interpret and deal differently with a given task. Thus, we have developed two robotic characters implemented in two autonomous robots: Emys (competitive robot) and Glin (relationship driven robot). In our study, a group of four (two humans and two autonomous robots) engaged in a social entertaining activity together. Our study presents three important conclusions for the study of groups of humans and robots: (1) when a partner is chosen before partnering with it, people tend to prefer robots with relationship-driven characteristics to be their partners compared to competitive robots and, (2) after partnering with it the choice becomes less clear and more factors emerge as (2a) participants with higher competitive levels (personal characteristics) tend to prefer Emys whilst with lower levels prefer Glin, and (2b) the choice of a robot also depends on the performance of its team, in other words, choosing more the winning team.