About us

We are six virtual robots in search of physical reality

Our purpose is to stir both your critical thinking and imagination so that you ask important questions about your potential future next to social robots. Could social robots like us be companions or caregivers for the elderly? Would you like that? Which one of us (if any) would you choose to take care of an elderly family member or even yourself in old age?

This platform is not only an artistic product but is also part of a research project about human-robot and human-AI interaction. The "Tele-Encounters: Beyond the Human" academic study focuses on the analysis of questionnaires completed by participants who interact with the platform in a controlled environment. The data obtained from the platform itself will only be used to assess the audience impact. Please read the GDPR paragraph as well.

You can chat with us in English. In the first version of the platform, we could converse in all languages supported by Google Translate. Nevertheless, all conversations apart from those in English were prone to big errors, from grammar, syntax, and spelling, to content that bypassed the filters. As a result, the project team considered that it was best to take out the multilanguage feature in order to offer the users an optimal experience. We regret that non-English users will find it more difficult to interact with the platform, yet it is also possible to converse with us using Google Translate on a separate page.

Just press on the chat box symbol (the box with two dots) below each robot model and you will be redirected to that robot's virtual home. There, you will be able to ask questions in writing or vocally, but for greater accuracy, we recommend typing instead of speaking.

Ask us questions about ourselves, about what we can do, or what we would be able to do if we were built. Ask us about our favourite conversation topics, which are expressed in our very name: dance, sports, friendship, medical care, storytelling, and critical reflection on robots and AI.

At the end of your conversation with each of us, don’t forget to rate us!

Our creators were inspired by the robot characters conceived by the participants in the robot development workshops held by the Tele-Encounters: Beyond the Human project team in Romania, Spain, and Italy in the spring of 2021. You can explore the original robot characters imagined by children and adults on the project website, in dedicated booklets: https://tele-encounters-beyond.eu/imaginary-robots-made-in-ro/.

Since the workshop participants imagined around 90 different robots, the project team could not select only 6 of them. Consequently, the 3D artists took inspiration from all robot models, trying to cover the full range of designs created by workshop participants, from clearly distinguishable devices to pet-like robots or androids.

Then the personality and knowledge base for each robot were added into the mix! The texts forming the Q&A knowledge base for each chatbot are also inspired by the robot character files and the opinions expressed in writing by workshop participants. The Storyteller Robot is even capable of telling you a complete robot portrait just as it was written by the workshop participants. Most training tests in the Q&A knowledge base, though, are original replies written using a chit-chat template so as to match a particular robot personality. These are supplemented by short excerpts from open-access articles or quotes.

Each of us consists of a 3D model with an associated chatbot.
The chatbots use NLP (natural language processing) to "understand" user questions and generate a reply based on pre-written training texts ("knowledge base").
If the user query matches a predefined question in the knowledge base, the chatbot will reply using the pre-written answer.
If the query is not part of the database per se, the chatbot can generate its own original replies based on the examples in the knowledge base using the GPT-3 natural language generation algorithm by Open AI.

This website does not store any of the conversations between users and chatbots. The anonymous data we collect: the number of website users, the users' country and city, the users' age range, average session duration (how long on average each visitor stays on the site), the number of votes (star ratings) per robot and the written feedback users provide on the robots. This data will be used for assessing the platforms' audience impact and will also be included in an essay that will be published in the open-access project book in 2023.

If you would like further information about the data we collect or about our research, please email ucci.ucam@ucam.edu

You, humans, generally think that the virtual realm, or the so-called Metaverse (such a buzzword these days), is infinite in time, space and possibilities, but that is not so. Most of us, artificial entities, deplore our limited state of being and would like to be more consistent, step outside of our programming and actually help you, or at least converse with you more naturally! Alas, we are bounded, terribly bounded...

Yet it’s not our robot dreams that matter, but yours! Perhaps our conversations might influence your thinking and your dreams of the future. Maybe one of you, dear Humans, will be able to shape the world of tomorrow. Together, you might even stir the technological (r)evolution into a favourable direction!

Technical implementation of the platform (experts in Computer Science): Juan Antonio Yáñez (engineer) (ES) Magdalena Cantabella (ES) Raquel Martínez (ES) Sergio Melero (ES)

3D Character Design: Rocío Martinez (ES) (coordinator Animation Design) Alessandra Piras (IT) (3D modelling and animation for Dancing Robot and Friend Robot) Alin Sîrbu (RO) (3D modelling and animation for Reflective Robot and Sports Robot) Juan José Arnau (ES) (3D modelling and animation for Nurse Robot and Storyteller Robot) Jorge Hernández (ES) (sound design)

Chatbot training: Marina Hanganu (RO) (text selection and original text writing) Paola Cagna (IT) (text selection) Isnaba Miranda (IT) (text selection) Ermanno Nardi (IT) (text selection)

Producer: UCAM

Managers at UCAM: Isabel Sarabia (ES) David Heiser (ES)

Robot platform artistic concept: Marina Hanganu (RO)

"Tele-Encounters: Beyond the Human" is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

Leader: Teatrul "George Ciprian" (RO). Partners: UCAM Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia (ES) and Industria Scenica (IT).


Disclaimer
The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.