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The Importance of Teaching Robots to Hug


Sharing a hug with a robot.

Researchers in Germany found that study participants prefer soft, warm hugs from a robot (but liked "really tight hugs" most of all).

Credit: Alexis Block

A study by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Germany detailed researchers' exploration of robots capable of hugging humans for emotional support.

For the study, participants interacted with a specially modified PR2 robot called HuggieBot. The robot could be equipped with soft foam, cotton, and polyester layers that could be heated, while also applying a range of hug pressures and interactive hug durations.

The team determined participants generally preferred HuggieBot's soft and warm hugs, and also liked "really tight hugs" most of all.

They also found hugging and receiving hugs from a robot apparently increased the machine's likability among participants.

From IEEE Spectrum
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