National Science Foundation FW-HTF-P: Mitigating Risks in Future Police Work through Social Telerobotic
For law enforcement officers (LEOs), miscommunications can have life or death consequences that resonate throughout communities and societies for years. Compounding this fact, the stress of emergency-response scenarios can impede proper interpretation of verbal messages and emotional states leading to incorrect judgements. Unfortunately, modern remote technologies that place officers out of harm’s way further strain the development of the trust relationships, situational awareness, and adequate communication. With rapidly improving telecommunication technologies, it is the socio-technological performance of this equipment that will impact the future use of robotics in law enforcement. This planning grant takes the first steps toward solving these challenges and instigating a paradigm shift in law enforcement robotics by introducing a new field at the human-technology frontier coined, “Human-Robot-Human” (HRH) collaboration that conceives a robust socio-technological landscape enabled by multimodal “presence” and communication through social robotics. Activities performed during these early investigations will focus on building the complete research team, developing stakeholder relations, and performing iterative prototyping and design studies with local law enforcement training sites in order to answer 3 research questions: (RQ1) What type of interface is preferred by LEOs and how much autonomy must the robot have during teleoperation? (RQ2) What design factors should the robot assume in order to meet the physical demands of LEOs while enabling functionality, transparent communications, and an appropriate demeanor? (RQ3) What actions and capabilities should the robot perform, autonomously or otherwise, to develop trust between itself and others while simultaneously enabling transparent communication? Preliminary answers to these questions will guide the submission of an exemplary FW-HTF-R research proposal by a highly-qualified integrative team in 2021.