Researchers from the College of Engineering at the University of Oregon (USA) conducted a study of how people would react to robotic vacuum cleaners if they suddenly take on a "personality" and begin to demonstrate a semblance of character. Does it make sense to develop this direction at all from a marketing or other point of view? To do this, they took a typical model of the Neato Botvac robotic vacuum cleaner and created three personality matrices for it, based on the characters of the gnomes from the fairy tale of Snow White.
The experimenters ruled out direct dialogue between the vacuum cleaner and a person and, in general, any two-way communication. Instead, the robots received separate add-ons for the algorithms for performing typical tasks. For example, the robot Happy's reaction to obstacle detection was quick but smooth, Sleepy slowed down and moved with long pauses, and Grumpy jerked chaotically from side to side.
There were similar differences between the matrices in the rate of cleaning, the choice of speed, the choice of the route, etc. From the outside, it looks and feels as if each robot is truly endowed with its own character. To test the impression, volunteers were recruited who did not know anything about the essence of the experiment, they were simply instructed to evaluate the "new robots" and choose a favorite - the one they would agree to keep. Almost all of them indicated Happy, noting his "friendliness".
Nobody liked the Grumpy matrix, largely due to the fact that people did not understand the robot's intentions - they considered it unpredictable, although it coped perfectly with the main task of cleaning the room. The Sleepy matrix received neutral ratings, but none of the subjects wanted to buy such a robot. Now the researchers want to expand the experiment by adding character matrices for the rest of the dwarves from the fairy tale of Snow White to test how people react to them too. The future is likely not for impersonal machines, but for smart assistants - and we already need to prepare for their appearance.