Public perception of robots to be explored with free events and city-wide survey

Issue date: 18 May 2018

Students from Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) are embarking on a research project to gauge the public's perception of robots and artificial intelligence (AI).

As part of the study being conducted by a team of doctoral robotics students, two engagement events will be held in Bristol over the next three months and a questionnaire will be issued to members of the public to collect their views.

The first event will take place at the Gallery Room in Hamilton House between 10am and 3pm on Saturday 19 May, organised in collaboration with Creative Reactions. There will be a dedicated area for children with robots on display, drawing materials, cookies and interactive games. Adults will be given the opportunity to take part in an interactive theatrical performance. This event is free of charge and does not require registration.

Questionnaires will be distributed around Bristol in June to gather data on public opinion about robotics and AI. These are aimed at capturing the public's knowledge and perceptions to help understand common misconceptions. The questionnaire – which will later be made accessible online - will be available in venues including public libraries, Bristol Folk House, The Canteen and Cafe Ronak.

The feedback will be reviewed by mid-July, ahead of a second event over the weekend of 28-29 July at We The Curious. Further information on registration for this event will follow.

Kirsty Aquilina, one of the twelve BRL students carrying out the research for their PhD studies, said: “Robotics and artificial intelligence are technologies appearing more and more in our daily lives, raising concerns whether we should adopt them or not. These events and surveys are aimed at demystifying the bad reputation these types of technologies have developed through their portrayal in the media.”

The BRL is the most comprehensive academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research in the UK. It is a collaborative partnership between the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and the University of Bristol, and home to a vibrant community of over 200 academics, researchers and industry practitioners. Together, they are world leaders in current thinking on service robotics, intelligent autonomous systems and bio-engineering.

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