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Eugene In Aotearoa - Robot Movie

Eugene in Aotearoa- Robot movie from HITLab on Vimeo.

This is a trailer for Eugene in Aotearoa that Eduardo and Mitchell made for Robot Film Festival 2014 and The Imagine Science Film Festival 2014 

The field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) is evolving quickly. Can robots develop emotional intelligence? To what extend robots can influence human behavior? Are humans capable to distinguish between genuine robot emotions and manipulation? Sandra Angelous has been researching Human Robot Interaction for most of her life. Finally she and her team have unified all the behavioural, social and psychological theories behind artificial intelligence. Her research is promising involving cloud computing resources and cutting edge robots that could suddenly change the future of our relationships forever.


Project on making a life-sized robot to study human-robot interactions

Eduardo Sandoval and Tim Pomroy were on Radio New Zealand to talk about there project to make a life-sized robot from 3D printed parts to study human-robot interactions.



Is Lego destroying your children's soul? -Dr Bartneck on Seven Sharp

This is a short video clip from Seven Sharp interviewing Dr Christoph Bartneck regarding his previous research on LEGO Minifigure.

 Media's response towards this study has been verwhelming and it seems the sensation the study brought is still on.

Please see the video at:


UC researchers believe robots can persuade people

A team of University of Canterbury (UC) researchers and scientists believe robots can persuade people to conform through group pressure. PhD student Juergen Brandstetter has been exploring how a group of robots can actually influence people when their numbers are in the majority. Brandstetter surveyed almost 50 people in a room, one at a time with four robots.

Results were promising and largely confirmed that the robots could encourage a single person to conform with the group. One of the tests included speaking in the past tense and the evidence from the survey suggested robots can influence language and further influence human opinion. Even though each person knew exactly what was right or wrong, the person unintentionally agreed with the group of robots a significant number of times. Our results showed that robots can induce conformity but to a significantly lesser degree than humans. We also found that there is substantial difference between visual and the verbal tasks. But we are convinced robots are capable of changing our behaviour even though they are still not as influential as humans can be. We measured the impact robots have on the English language and looked at the conformity rate robots have on people. The results showed that people would follow robots. Robots clearly pushed people into using the wrong English tense.

Brandstetter carried out his research under the supervision of Dr Christoph Bartneck from UC’s HIT Lab NZ and support from UC’s New Zealand Institute of Language, Brain and Behaviour and the Northwestern University of Illinois. "This research is important to New Zealand and society as the digital age intensifies. Nearly 160,000 robots were commercially sold worldwide in 2012 and the sale of industrial robots to the automotive industry continues to increase. Asia, including Australia and New Zealand, was by far the biggest market with 84,645 industrial robots sold. One of the Government’s 10 National Scientific Challenges announced last year included robotic development. Some New Zealand companies are developing industrial robots. We will one day soon see personal robots that could help assist elderly people living alone, or taking care of children and offering information in public places. Japan is the world leader in this area and they are developing robots for their domestic market. We already have more mobile phones than humans and that we expect that the ratio of robots to humans on this planet will shift in the future strongly towards a majority of robots. "Researchers at UC can offer their expertise to industry and work together to create a totally new industry with the obvious benefit to the New Zealand public,’ Brandstetter says.


UC game named in top 10 global sciences games

A University of Canterbury (UC) computer game about protecting native forests has been named one of the top 10 global sciences games by a leading UK newspaper.

The Guardian paper says the new generation of online games don't just provide entertainment, they help scientists solve puzzles involving genes, conservation and the universe.

The UC-designed game Ora, listed as one of the best 10 science games, is an ecological adventure game saving the native forests of New Zealand.

Hazel Bradshaw, a UC HIT Lab NZ PhD student who designed and developed Ora, says the game is not just for geeks in lab coats but for people to immerse themselves in the game world and play to help save forests.

Gamers are charged with taking care of a plot of New Zealand forest and protecting it from ravenous possums. They can set traps, create sanctuaries or fly aerial operations to sow toxic bait to save a virtual forest.

The design allows the translation of complex problems into fun and engaging gameplay, with the goal of allowing the general population to get involved and contribute to serious research topics through play,’’ Bradshaw says.

Landcare Research has teamed up with the HIT Lab NZ at UC to find a new way to present scientific research and find out how people want to manage their forests: a computer game based on real data and models of pest and tree dynamics and management options.

Ora is a totally different way of making research results available for others to learn from. The game is based on real-life data and models of forest-pest-management interactions, putting knowledge at gamers’ fingertips in a fun-filled ecosystem adventure.

Players’ actions tackling the complex problems of pest control will feed back into research on control strategies, with the potential to influence management decisions.

The game is all about helping save New Zealand’s beautiful but fragile native forest from the jaws of hungry possums.’’

The management of vast tracts of New Zealand's forests for conservation is a complex issue, key parts of which are the need to educate people about the science on pest management and forest dynamics, engage with multiple stakeholders with conflicting values, and understand people's perceptions and aspirations for the problem and associated solutions.

To help raise money for the game, Ora's developers have released Possum Stomp, a mini game app available on iOS or Android. See:

Landcare Research scientist Dr Pen Holland developed the extensive computer model of possum impacts on New Zealand’s native forests.

One of the greatest challenges in this kind of cross-disciplinary work is finding the right people to work with, and Hazel’s game design skills with the support of the HIT Lab NZ have been essential in the process of turning pest management research into an awesome game," Dr Holland says.


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