Academic Year 2019-2020



Leopoldina Fortunati
Carlo Drioli
Unit Credits
Teaching Period
Second Period
Course Type
Prerequisites. No prerequisites are required
Teaching Methods. Lab Activities The mode of carrying out the activities of the laboratory will be the following: the class will be suitably divided into small groups and each group will be responsible for devising the design and construction of a small robot. The educational offer that the course aims to offer has three characteristics: 1) it will be transdisciplinary (as it will integrate various disciplines from sociology to neuroscience and the foundations of electronics, mechanics and informatics connected to the paradigm of do it yourself and to the open source hardware platforms); 2) it will be connected with other courses at national level (Università La Sapienza – Roma and Seconda Università di Napoli) and at international level (Jyvaskyla University – Finland e London School of Economics – UK); 3) it will require a very proactive role on the part of students, who will be invited to engage in various forms of learning, research and restitution of what they have learned and produced during the course.
Verification of Learning. Type of exam – Oral Students are required to realize a project, which will be evaluated at the end of the lab and in any event before the exam date, according to criteria of originality, consistency and complexity. The oral exam will be aimed at investigating the level of knowledge of the recommended texts and the level of acquisition of the specific language related to the discipline. Working students can discuss with the instructor an alternative syllabus. Office hours: One hour after each lesson. Language adopted during the course: the course will be conducted mainly in English. Students can take the exam in Italian, but they can also choose to take it in English or in French or in Spanish.
Educational purpose and objectives The main purpose of the course is to illustrate the epistemological, communicative and sociological characteristics of social robot, which are considered next “new media”. In particular, the course has the followings educational aims: 1) provide students with the tools to understand the historical passages through which this technology has arrived at a stage of relative maturity and what distinguishes an industrial robot from a social robot 2) provide students with the tools to understand what are the problems which the introduction of social robots in society must face. 3) provide students with the theoretical and methodological tools to understand what are the characteristics that a social robot must have to become a successful product 4) provide students with the tools to discuss effectively on social robotics 5) provide students with tools to analyze and understand autonomously the development of social robotics.
The course will be divided into two parts. A first part (33 hours) will briefly outline the history of robotics and will trace the significant elements of the state of the art on social robots. In this part, also the 5 directions of the research on social robotics will be analyzed. The first is the study of the social shaping of people’s imaginary on robots: cinema, television, press and science fiction literature offer a range of products on robots (from movies to TV series, from news reports to science fiction novels). Which kind of influence have these products on people’s imagination, starting from children? The second is the study of automation processes that are developing no longer only inside the factory, but also in the sphere of interpersonal relationships, communication and information, emotion and entertainment, and that constitute an important premise of social robotics. Then various hypotheses concerning the form and language of social robots and social issues to which they will or already are giving an answer, based on the results of empirical research available today will be analyzed. The third direction concerns the real diffusion of social robots in society: a quantification of how many robots exists at industrial and social level and a mapping of their diffusion in the various sectors of everyday life will be made. Education? Entertainment? Health? Home? Which problems are robots able to resolve in assisting the elderly and ills? Will they be able to help us to do the housework at material and immaterial level? The fourth direction concerns the study of the old and new forms of social robots. Do we want a robot similar to the human being? And, if yes, to what extent? Or do we prefer un robot that is recognizable as such? Or even we would like to develop the robotics of a medium that we already use, such as, for example, the mobile phone or the computer? The fifth direction concerns a very sensitive subject: the robotics in the human body through robotic prostheses, wearable robots, diagnosis or treatment robots. But robotics concerns also many things that are on the surface of the human body, such as, for example, robot clothes. In the second part of the course (30 hours) the conception, design and construction of a small robot with students will be pursued.
Vincent J, Taipale S, Sapio B., Lugano G. and Fortunati L., (eds.) Social Robots from a Human perspective. Berlin: Springer. Fortunati L, Esposito A, Ferrin G, Viel M (2014) Approaching social robots through playfulness and doing-it-yourself: children in action. Cognitive Computation 6(4): 789-801. DOI: 10.1007/S12559-014-9303-y. Fortunati L, Esposito A and Lugano G (2015) (eds.) The special issue “Beyond Industrial Robotics: Social Robots Entering Public and Domestic Spheres”, The Information Society 31(3). Fortunati L, Esposito A, Sarrica M, Ferrin G (2015) Children’s Knowledge and Imaginary About Robots, International Journal of Social Robotics, DOI: 10.1007/s12369-015-0316-9. intervalla: platform for intellectual exchange 1, Special issue on Social Robots and Emotion: Transcending the Boundary Between Humans and ICTs, Editors Satomi Sugiyama & Jane Vincent ISSN 2296-3413.