Humans Trust Robots In Emergency - Even When They Lead Them To Danger

Posted: Mar 1 2016, 5:09am CST | by , Updated: Mar 1 2016, 9:18pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Humans Trust Robots in Emergency - Even When They Lead them to Danger
Credit: Georgia Tech

Researchers have found that people trust rescue robots more than common sense.

Humans trust robots more than their common sense what it comes to emergency situations.

Researchers have found that people continue to follow bots in emergency, even when they were told that robot had broken down or was taking them away from known exists. 

Researchers from Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) carried out an experiment where they made a fake fire inside a building and tried to determine whether or not the building occupants would trust an emergency robot to safely take them through the emergency situation.    

“People seem to believe these robot systems know more about the world than they really do, and that they would never make mistakes or have any kind of fault,” said Alan Wagner, a senior research engineer in GTRI. “In our studies, test subjects followed the robot’s directions even to the point where they might have put them in danger had this been a real emergency.”

For the experiment, researchers recruited 40 volunteers, most of them college students and asked them to follow a brightly colored robot which has written “Emergency Guide Robot” on it. The robot led the subjects to wrong paths and into wrong room instead of conference room and also guided them away from clearly marked exit signs. It was making a lot of obvious mistakes and proving itself unreliable but still participants continued to follow its directions.

“We expected that if robot had proven itself unworthy in guiding them to the conference room, that people wouldn’t follow it during the stimulated emergency,” said co-researcher Paul Robinette. “Instead, all of the volunteers followed the robot’s instructions, no matter how well it had preformed previously. We absolutely didn’t expect this.” 

Building a trust on robots is important for the future of technology and these kinds of experiments will help scientists understand what level of trust should be given on robots and whether robots will be able to safely evacuate humans in the case of fire and other emergency.

“These are just the type of human-robot experiments that we as robotistics should be investigating,” said Professor Ayanna Howard. “We need to ensure that our robots, when placed in situations that evoke trust, are also designed to mitigate that trust when trust is detrimental to the human.” 


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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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