Exploring Consequential Robot Sound: Should We Make Robots Quiet and Kawaii-et?

by   Brian J. Zhang, et al.

All robots create consequential sound – sound produced as a result of the robot's mechanisms – yet little work has explored how sound impacts human-robot interaction. Recent work shows that the sound of different robot mechanisms affects perceived competence, trust, human-likeness, and discomfort. However, the physical sound characteristics responsible for these perceptions have not been clearly identified. In this paper, we aim to explore key characteristics of robot sound that might influence perceptions. A pilot study from our past work showed that quieter and higher-pitched robots may be perceived as more competent and less discomforting. To better understand how variance in these attributes affects perception, we performed audio manipulations on two sets of industrial robot arm videos within a series of four new studies presented in this paper. Results confirmed that quieter robots were perceived as less discomforting. In addition, higher-pitched robots were perceived as more energetic, happy, warm, and competent. Despite the robot's industrial purpose and appearance, participants seemed to prefer more "cute" (or "kawaii") sound profiles, which could have implications for the design of more acceptable and fulfilling sound profiles for human-robot interactions with practical collaborative robots.


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