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Social acceptability – the importance of getting robots right

To become a true human companion a robot must be accepted not just for what it does, but who it is. That means a robot’s physical appearance is crucial to its success.  A well designed shape is important, but not the only consideration. A cute robot can become freaky if its behavior doesn’t match our social rules, while a simple tin box with arms and caterpillars that expresses emotion convincingly can become as touching as a fawn.  Rodolphe considers the challenges that algorithms and AI have to tackle to make robots socially acceptable.

  • Acceptability of robots – is the humanoid shape the most acceptable to humans?
  • Robotic emotion – how social robots interact with their environment and sensitive humans
  • Social rules for robots – how we have to teach good social behaviour to our robots 


As a graduate of the School of Civil Engineering at l’Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées, France, and with a DEA in Artificial Intelligence, Rodolphe has 20 years’ experience in research with teams in the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique), most notably in robotics used to assist people. He joined SoftBank Robotics in 2008 and now leads the company’s innovation team, focused on the development of new technologies for current robots and the continued exploration of humanoid robotics. He also heads SoftBank Robotics’ ROMEO project, which aims to create a robot to assist the elderly. The Romeo robot is the fruit of collaboration between numerous French and European laboratories and institutions.