A recent New York Times article shines some interesting light on human relationships with robots. Since we love Rexroth servos, we can understand developing relationships with robots. But it happens more often than you might think — and not just to engineers.
We’re inclined to assign motivations and thought processes to autonomous objects, even something as simple as a stick being controlled by a motor. When robots move in certain ways, we attribute emotions to those movements. One researcher found that humans will assign traits to robots, like rudeness or shyness, based on specific collaborative movements.
[If] a robot and a human reach for the same object simultaneously, and the robot never hesitates or varies its speed, people think the robot is being rude. When the robot makes little jerky motions and slows down, according to [the researcher], people actually describe this disembodied arm as considerate — maybe even a little shy.
Of course, these human judgments aren’t actually based on emotions the robot displays. Indramat drives may have Personality Modules, but it’s simply programming that makes it act in a certain way. We all know that, but it doesn’t keep people from responding as though the robot has feelings and motivations.
Engineers can take advantage of our predisposition to assign human emotions to robotic movement to get a desired outcome if the robot needs to collaborate with humans. Now that more and more robotic arms are being used in collaborative ways in work environments, it’s important for us as engineers to understand this concept of human perception.
If you’ve been around Rexroth machines for long enough, you’ll realize you’ve probably done this in the past. When a Rexroth servomotor you’ve been working with keeps failing, you might feel anger towards it and call it lazy or feel bad and hope that it gets better, just as you might for a sick person. We understand what its like to get attached to Rexroth servos, especially when we work with them day in and day out. But not everyone has this type of relationship with robotics—some people really just care about whether or not it’s doing its job efficiently and is running as it should all the time.
No matter what kind of relationship you have with your Rexroth or Indramat servos, we can help get them back up and working—or nurse them back to robotic health, if you will. Be sure to contact our team to discuss the problems you’re having with your servo and we’ll help walk you through the process to get it back up and running or replace or repair what’s necessary.