Ethorobotics: A New Approach to Human-Robot Relationship

Front Psychol. 2017 Jun 9;8:958. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00958. eCollection 2017.


Here we aim to lay the theoretical foundations of human-robot relationship drawing upon insights from disciplines that govern relevant human behaviors: ecology and ethology. We show how the paradox of the so called "uncanny valley hypothesis" can be solved by applying the "niche" concept to social robots, and relying on the natural behavior of humans. Instead of striving to build human-like social robots, engineers should construct robots that are able to maximize their performance in their niche (being optimal for some specific functions), and if they are endowed with appropriate form of social competence then humans will eventually interact with them independent of their embodiment. This new discipline, which we call ethorobotics, could change social robotics, giving a boost to new technical approaches and applications.

Keywords: dog; ethology; human-robot interaction; niche; social competence; social robotics; uncanny valley.

Publication types

  • Review