A Washington State University study found that watching videos of a soft robot working alongside a human reduced viewers’ feelings of threat and uncertainty. This is even when the soft robot was shown working in close proximity to a human. This finding indicates that soft robots have a potential psychological advantage over rigid robots made of metal or other hard materials.

“Previous research has generally found that the closer you are to a rigid robot, the more negative your reactions are, but we didn’t find those results in this study of soft robots,” said WSU psychology professor Tahira Probst.

Currently, human and rigid robot workers must maintain a certain distance for safety reasons, but as this study shows, the proximity of soft robots could be not only physically safer, but also psychologically acceptable.

“This discovery needs further study, and if the new results show the same, it means that humans could work more closely with soft robots,” Probst said.

Source: Science Daily