Guy Hoffman wants human-robot interactions to feel more like collaboration and less like a chess game. In his TED Talk Robots with "soul" Hoffman discusses the processes he used to build a little humanity into robotic functions.
Hoffman tells us what he calls the roboticist's secret - at some point in our lifetime every one of us will interact with robots. Because of this he wants all of our robotic interactions to feel like we are working with the robot instead of using it as a tool.
After leaving a software job in Israel Guy moved to New York to study animation, and later postponed his schooling to study acting. Diverse influences, all centered around the way people move and connect with each other brings a unique feel to his robot projects.
At MIT in the Robotic Life group Hoffman dreamed of building a robot that would mimic his animation projects. He designed a robot's motion frame by frame to mimic fluid human movements.
This video is heavy in demonstration videos and pictures. Hoffman shows us how the same robot can seem incredibly supportive to a human and then confrontational, depending on the human interacting with it.
The chess game analogy hit Guy when he was cleaning up after a party with a group of friends. Each human being instinctively fell into a role when cleaning, folding up several chairs and emptying wastebaskets. Human robot interaction was more like a game where the human gave input, then the robot processed the input and reacted, and the human could then give another line of code to the bot.
Guy Hoffman is an incredible speaker full of movement, ideas and life. He doesn't talk about the minute details of programming his robots, but clearly shows his process and explains the end results of his work.