Physical interactions using the body play an important role in human-human interactions by allowing the exchange of subtle information that is difficult to describe in words, e.g. comfort, preference, intention, and emotion. Robots working closely with humans in daily environments should understand, utilize, and express such information to effectively interact with humans. The goal of empathetic physical interaction is to realize human-centered physical support where the robot uses its body as a medium for exchanging subtle but crucial information with the human partner, and adapts its behavior based on the information received for improving the perception and performance of physical support. This talk will introduce two related projects at Honda Research Institute USA: perception of pedestrian avoidance behavior of a mobile robot, and modeling of intimate social interactions such as hugging.
Dr. Katsu Yamane is a Senior Scientist at Honda Research Institute USA. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering in 1997, 1999, and 2002 respectively from the University of Tokyo, Japan. Prior to joining Honda in 2018, he was a Senior Research Scientist at Disney Research, an Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo, and a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Yamane currently serves as an Associate Editor for IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters and a Specialty Chief Editor for the Humanoid Robotics section of Frontiers in Robotics and AI. His research interests lie in the intersection of computer science, mechanical engineering and biomechanics, and include such topics as physical human-robot interaction, humanoid robot control and motion synthesis, and human motion simulation.