HugBot Documentation

HugBot is a life-size Hugging Robot which mimics the way humans give and receive hugs. This idea was motivated from a couple of research.

  2. Disney Research: Study of Children’s Hugging for Interactive Robot Design

We went through a series of steps to come up with the working prototype for the HugBot’s hand.

  1. Using cardboard we made several kinds of hands that have a variable number of joints. This was to figure out what is the optimum number of joints required to make the hand more flexible and provide a better curve to it. We found that more the number of joints more the curvature of the hand would be. So we decided to have at least 3 joints for the HugBot’s hand.
  2. The Instructables that motivated our work had some files for making a smaller version of the HugBot. Using Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS filament we 3D printed the joints for the hands to figure out what possible shapes we could have for each joint.This helped us find out that each joint should have a curvature of x degree.
Figure 1. 3D printed hand

Link to 3D printed hand movement:

3. From the 3D printed hand we found that it was essential to make the material softer since we did not want the robot to put a lot of pressure on the person it was hugging. So we used rubber spring to see how flexible it was. Though the flexibility was good but the curvature and the force exerted by the spring is not enough to mimic a human hug. Hence, we did not move forward with this design.

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Figure 2. Prototype of hand using rubber spring

4. Our next approach was to try some softer material instead of ABS. So we use foam sponge. It was soft but stiff enough to exert the pressure of human hug. Using this material we made hands that were adult human sized.

The process for the hand movement is such that the entire hand bends on the pulling and releasing of two strings that go all the way through both the hands.

Future work: We are working on modifying the hand since the shape or material of the hands does not exert a lot of pressure. We plan on performing a user study with pressure sensors and gesture sensors to figure out the following:

  • How much force is exerted on another person when an adult hugs?
  • What are different postures and positions for hugging?

Types of hugs we want to test:

  • Formal hugs
  • Informal hugs
    • Friends
    • Couple
    • Parents/Elders
    • Family

Gesture sensor test: Here is a video of the gesture sensor test we performed using Perception Neuron.

We will be using this panda to test our work.

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