Funny robots lead to best paper award

A robot playing the piano.

Naomi Fitter, assistant professor of robotics, won the Best Paper Award at the 2020 Association for Computing Machinery/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction.

The paper, co-written with John Vilk, “Comedians in Cafes Getting Data: Evaluating Timing and Adaptivity in Real-World Robot Comedy Performance,” reported findings that may provide key clues for how social robots can best engage people with humor.

“Stand-up comedy provides a naturally-structured experimental context for initial studies of robot humor,” Fitter said. The study compared audience responses to a robotic stand-up comedian over multiple performances that varied the robot’s timing and how it adapted to its audience.

“The paper was fun to write, but also represents more than a year of data collection and analysis,” Fitter said.

The HRI conference is a highly selective conference, with an acceptance rate below 25%. Accordingly, getting a best paper award at this conference is a challenging feat.

“I am excited to received this award, which indicates my home research community’s interest in and enthusiasm for my research program,” said Fitter.

April 13, 2020

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