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  (Source: Borut Povše)
Experiment to measure human-robot pain thresholds

A robotics lab in Slovenia has been conducting experiments to assess human-robot pain thresholds by allowing robots to repeatedly strike human volunteers in the arm with blunt and sharp tools. 

Borut Povše, a robotics researcher from the University of Ljubljana, has received "ethical approval" to allow this type of research. He has enlisted six colleagues to participate in the study, where each is to endure physical pain from robots. 

"We are taking the first steps to defining the limits of the speed and acceleration of robots, and the ideal size and shape of the tools they use, so they can safely interact with humans," said Povše.

Povše borrowed a production-line robot from the Japanese technology firm Epson, and programmed its arm to travel toward a specified point that is occupied by the human's arm, so that the robot will have to hit it. Each volunteer was struck 18 times by a robot arm that contained two tools at the end of it - one that was round and blunt, and the other that was sharp.

Throughout this process, volunteers were asked to rate the pain that they've endured by each individual hit. Their answer choices were painless, mild, moderate, horrible or unbearable pain. Povše tested the robot on himself first, then allowed the robot to begin striking his colleagues. After all six participants received their 18 strikes, most of them rated the pain as either "mild" or "moderate."

"Determining the limits of pain during robot-human impacts this way will allow the design of robot motions that cannot exceed these limits," said Sami Haddadin from DLR, the German Aerospace Centre in Wessling. 

While this type of research has many benefits associated with the improvement of robot-human interaction, other researchers such as Michael Liebschner, a biomechanics specialist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, believe that more work is needed to determine the effectiveness of these experiments. 

"It makes sense to study this," said Liebschner. "However, I would question using pain as an outcome measure. Pain is very subjective. Nobody cares if you have a stinging pain when a robot hits you - what you want to prevent is injury, because that's when litigation starts."

The next step for researchers is to use an artificial arm to demonstrate the effects of severe collisions. With this kind of information and research, they hope to "cap" the maximum speed a robot should travel when it senses a human nearby in order to prevent injury.

This research was presented at the IEEE's Systems, Man and Cybernetics conference in Istanbul, Turkey. 


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I for one welcome our new robo-sadomasochists
By LuxFestinus on 10/15/2010 9:12:06 PM , Rating: 5
The beatings will continue until moral improves!




RE: I for one welcome our new robo-sadomasochists
By kake on 10/16/2010 4:11:00 AM , Rating: 5
Foxconn emphatically denies your accusations. How dare you, a simple commenter on a news blog suggest that moral is low? Moral is high, the workers are happy, the plants are running well. Look in your mailbox for a package full of reassuring 100 dollars bills along with a letter full of thinly disguised threats.


RE: I for one welcome our new robo-sadomasochists
By kake on 10/16/2010 4:17:29 AM , Rating: 2
DailyTech, when I attempted to post my initial, one sentence satirical statement, I received a message indicating that the content appeared to be spam and was blocked from posting as DailyTech does not allow spam. I am wondering if perhaps your sarcasm filter parameters are not set to correctly identify attempted posts of such a nature or whether you're secretly Foxconn agents doing damage control?

I kid, I kid.


By Alexvrb on 10/17/2010 11:13:53 AM , Rating: 4
I tried to post a link the other day and the filter soiled itself and wouldn't let me post until I removed it.

Maybe instead of pre-condemning a post as spam, it should first check to see if the user is a long time poster and not a new account named BarristerSuchandSuch from Nigeria.


By kattanna on 10/18/2010 10:36:57 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
Moral is high, the workers are happy


so the beatings are working then, good to know


By marsbound2024 on 10/16/2010 8:30:42 PM , Rating: 5
Or humans learn how to spell morale correctly!!!! :)


By shiftypy on 10/19/2010 6:48:53 AM , Rating: 2
Don't know why has this reminded me of
The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VDvgL58h_Y

Can you endure 20,000 spoonfuls of terror?


Slippery slope...
By delphinus100 on 10/15/2010 8:31:21 PM , Rating: 2
Uh-oh. Now we've let them taste blood...

Where's Asimov when you need him? :)




RE: Slippery slope...
By KendoTek on 10/15/2010 10:06:35 PM , Rating: 5
The researchers side-skirted the Asimov's 3 Laws of Robotics, I think. If that robotic arm was under direct human control, then the laws don't necessarily apply, as they would for an autonomous robot. Either way, the data will be quite useful for Skynet!


RE: Slippery slope...
By BZDTemp on 10/16/2010 1:23:38 PM , Rating: 2
They better learn it how to play TIC-TAC-TOE


The Onion?
By The Raven on 10/15/2010 9:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
I seriously thought this was a joke as I read the headlines.
It totally reminds me of this classic from the Onion...
http://www.theonion.com/video/study-multiple-stab-...

Well, it is nice to know someone is out there figuring out the robot pain infliction thresholds or whatever it is. I just think they should've used monkeys ;-)




RE: The Onion?
By inperfectdarkness on 10/16/2010 8:54:59 AM , Rating: 2
i'm actually reminded of the milgram experiment...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment


RE: The Onion?
By JonB on 10/16/2010 9:00:11 AM , Rating: 2
If for nothing else, thanks for The Onion reference.

I spent almost an hour watching video clips and forgot all about robots punching me.


.
By sprockkets on 10/15/2010 11:40:54 PM , Rating: 4
Great. Now all we need to do is make sure those robots have a corresponding set of balls to kick with the same debilitating effects just in case they get out of hand.




RE: .
By Aquila76 on 10/16/2010 4:45:44 PM , Rating: 2
Like Devastator in Transformers 2?


Can we stop at "moderate" pain please?
By GeorgeOu on 10/16/2010 3:09:16 AM , Rating: 2
Why can't they just go light, mild, and moderate and then stop when the subject says "moderate"? Why does it need to go up to "unbearable"?




By kontorotsui on 10/16/2010 9:54:58 AM , Rating: 2
Because they like that


Skynet
By btc909 on 10/16/2010 12:00:33 PM , Rating: 2
What is taking so long to get Skynet online?




RE: Skynet
By RivuxGamma on 10/16/2010 1:49:53 PM , Rating: 2
Because they haven't perfected HAL, yet.

http://www.cyberdyne.jp/english/


Unbearable Pain?
By Schrag4 on 10/18/2010 1:01:06 PM , Rating: 2
Do you really need the subject to tell you the pain is unbearable? By definition, won't they be screaming and writhing already?




EPSON
By camylarde on 10/19/2010 9:54:57 AM , Rating: 2
That's one huge Dot Matrix Printer from Epson... I wonder if it can go all the way down to A0... What is the pages per minute speed, Anand?




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