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Anthropomorphism in Robotics Engineering for Disabled People

Authors: B. Tondu, N. Bardou


In its attempt to offer new ways into autonomy for a large population of disabled people, assistive technology has largely been inspired by robotics engineering. Recent human-like robots carry new hopes that it seems to us necessary to analyze by means of a specific theory of anthropomorphism. We propose to distinguish a functional anthropomorphism which is the one of actual wheelchairs from a structural anthropomorphism based on a mimicking of human physiological systems. If functional anthropomorphism offers the main advantage of eliminating the physiological systems interdependence issue, the highly link between the robot for disabled people and their human-built environment would lead to privilege in the future the anthropomorphic structural way. In this future framework, we highlight a general interdependence principle : any partial or local structural anthropomorphism generates new anthropomorphic needs due to the physiological systems interdependency, whose effects can be evaluated by means of specific anthropomorphic criterions derived from a set theory-based approach of physiological systems.

Keywords: Disability, anthropomorphism, Human-like machines, Systemstheory

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