Conscientious Caretaking for Autonomous Robots: An Arousal-Based Model of Exploratory Behavior

TitleConscientious Caretaking for Autonomous Robots: An Arousal-Based Model of Exploratory Behavior
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsHiolle, A, Cañamero, L
EditorSchlesinger, M, Berthouze, L, Balkenius, C
Name of ProceedingsProc. 8th International Conference on Epigenetic Robotics: Modeling Cognitive Development in Robotic Systems (EpiRob 2008)
Series TitleLund University Cognitive Studies
Series Volume139
PublisherLund University
Conference LocationBrighton, UK
ISBN Number978-91-977-380-1-9
ISSN Number1101-8453

The question of how autonomous robots could be part of our everyday life is gaining increasing interest. We present here an experiment in which an autonomous robot explores its environment and tries to familiarize itself with its novel elements using a neural-network-based architecture. When confronted with novelty, the lack of stability of its learning structures increases the arousal level of the robot, pushing it to look for comfort from its caretaker in order to reduce this arousal. In this paper, we studied how the behavior of the caretaker—and in particular the amount of comfort it provides to the robot during its exploration of the environment—influences the course of the robot’s exploration and learning experience. This work takes inspiration from early mother-infant interactions and the impact that the primary caretaker has on the development of children—at least in mainstream Western culture. The underlying hypothesis is that the behavior of a caregiver, and particularly his/her role in modulating arousal, will influence the development of an autonomous robot, and that arousal regulation will also depend on how accurately the robot signals its internal state and how the caretaker (or human user) responds to these signals.