Sound library for robot-human communication (Creative Commons)

Drinks by Jorge ChamWorking at Willow Garage in an office full of robots running around may sound like a lot of fun (and it usually is), but sometimes it’s just plain confusing. Should I move out of the way for this PR2 or did it already reach its destination? Is that PR2 trying to open that door or is it just sitting idle?

By working with and around robots every day, we frequently stumble upon human-robot interaction design challenges and research inspiration. There is clearly a design challenge in communicating internal robot states (e.g., goals, task status) and requests (e.g., to persuade people to step aside) to effectively reach the robot’s assigned goals. On the human side, this type of communication can also make robot behaviors more predictable (thereby, safer and less startling) and maybe even more appealing.

This week, we’ll be presenting the results of our research on nonverbal behaviors that robots use at the HRI 2011 conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. In particular, the presentation will empirically demonstrate the animation talents of Pixar animator Doug Dooley, our coauthor (paper). Unfortunately, it’s difficult to share animations of robots, particularly since robots have different body forms and kinematics.

On the other hand, it’s very easy to share robot sounds. In collaboration with sound designer EJ Holowicki, we’ve created a set of sound libraries for communication between people and robots. One of the lessons we’ve learned from this iterative sound design process is that almost no one agrees on what “voice” is best. Therefore, we’ve provided a set of options for you to try out.

Willow Garage HRI Sound Library

Enjoy! These sound libraries are licensed via Creative Commons (CC0) so that you can feel free to use them.