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Spring 2015

Inquiry Magazine Archive

  • Spring 2016

    Spring 2016: Premium Blend

    Found in everything from space shuttles to dental fillings, composite materials have thoroughly infiltrated modern society. But their potential is still greatly untapped, offering researchers ample opportunity for discovery.

  • Fall 2015

    Fall 2015: Collision Course

    Within the particle showers created at the Large Hadron Collider, answers to some of the universe’s mysteries are waiting.

  • Spring 2015

    Spring 2015: Almost Human

    Model systems like pigeons can help illuminate our own evolutionary and genomic history.

  • Fall 2014

    Fall 2014: Small Wonder

    UT Arlington's tiny windmills are bringing renewable energy to a whole new scale.

  • Winter 2014

    Winter 2014: Overdue for an Overhaul

    The stability of our highways, pipelines, and even manholes is reaching a breaking point.

  • 2012

    2012: Mystery solved?

    Scientists believe they have discovered a subatomic particle that is crucial to understanding the universe.

  • 2011

    2011: Boosting brain power

    UT Arlington researchers unlock clues to the human body’s most mysterious and complex organ.

  • 2010

    2010: Powered by genetics

    UT Arlington researchers probe the hidden world of microbes in search of renewable energy sources.

  • 2009

    2009: Winning the battle against pain

    Wounded soldiers are benefiting from Robert Gatchel’s program that combines physical rehabilitation with treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • 2009

    2007: Sensing a solution

    Tiny sensors implanted in the body show promise in combating acid reflux disease, pain and other health problems.

  • 2006

    2006:Semiconductors: The next generation

    Nanotechnology researchers pursue hybrid silicon chips with life-saving potential.

  • 2005

    2005: Imaging is everything

    Biomedical engineers combat diseases with procedures that are painless to patients.


I, Robot

Engineers look to theater techniques to create more responsive machines 

Julienne Greer

Julienne Greer is helping scientists build robots with greater emotional authenticity.

To make better robots, engineers are turning to an unlikely source: the theater.

“Performance, connection, and authenticity are the gold standard that should be hoped for in the creation of the relationship between humans and robots,” says Julienne Greer, theatre arts senior lecturer at UTA. “We can attain these goals through the specific application of understanding human behavior, gesture, shape, and relationships.”

As a producer, director, and actor, Dr. Greer knows the techniques that help draw people’s deepest emotions to the surface. Now, she’s using that knowledge to help scientists and robotics engineers build more responsive robots.

“In addition to considering how a robot should be wired, don’t we want the people who design this technology to consider how human beings express feelings and interact with one another?” Greer asks.

The hope is that by categorizing behaviors or gestures and understanding how they create specific emotions in humans, engineers and roboticists will be better able to apply that information in their robotics programming.

“It’s not in the algorithms and models, per se, that you find the creation of an actual relationship between humans and social robots, but in the measure of how algorithms and models serve the purpose of building connection and authenticity,” says Giuseppe Boccignone, keynote speaker at the 2014 International Conference on Social Robotics and computer science associate professor at the University of Milan. “Dr. Greer is showing us that addressing performing arts techniques can be vital to building emotional relationships between ‘agents,’ either human or artificial.”

The plan now is for Greer to develop a data-capturing test that would, among other things, find out the response of humans to robots confronting a variety of circumstances.

“We must be specific in programming robots to respond to, and eventually learn from, the human relationships they will be a part of,” she says.

More articles from this issue

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