It has been 17 months since I last wrote a post here.

I’m back!

This time I have a robot side-kick sharing my office and my working life for the next year or so.

Haru robot (and Azure Kinect sensor to the left)

Haru robot at rest (with the associated Azure Kinect sensor to its left)

The last time I posted was about my plans for research into ideas about and experiences of communicating as/through/with a robot. At that point, Haru (pictured above) was one of the robots I was hoping to get to work with. Sim, the other robot, was already sharing my office. Unfortunately, since Haru’s arrival at the end of 2022, Sim has been… malfunctioning (or sulking if you prefer an obvious anthropomorphic projection). Connection issues have now been joined by problems charging the base unit and I don’t have time to work out what’s happening or ask for help from support (which could be awkward, since we’re now well outside the official paid support period).

In the picture, the Haru system (robot, sensor and associated computer) is switched off. Is Haru asleep? Dead? Comatose? Well, that’s for you to decide. One of the things I’m interested in is anthropomorphism and how people talk about robots. I’m very conscious of my own anthropomorphisms at the moment! I talk to Haru a lot, whether its on or off, awake or sleeping, alive or dead… I have trained myself to use “it” to refer to robots, but I know that many others prefer to give machines a gender, or maybe just fall into doing so as they reach for the most appropriate-seeming pronoun in the moment. That’s one of the other things we’re going to investigate with this robot.

You’ll have to give me a few days before I’m ready to post a bit more about how we’re starting to research with Haru. When I get there, I promise I’ll furnish that post with more exciting images (and maybe short videos) of Haru in action.