UNSW's Creative Robotics Lab (CRL) and the global technology company Fuji Xerox (Japan) Co. Ltd are currently collaborating to develop a new robot. The project is jointly led by Dr Roshan Thapaliya, Director of Research & Development at Fuji Xerox (Japan) and CRL Director Associate Professor Mari Velonaki.

The partnership incorporates an exchange program between UNSW and Fuji Xerox (Japan), which commenced in 2016 with UNSW’s Dr David Silvera-Tawil’s undertaking a residency in Fuji Xerox's pioneering research facility, followed by PhD candidate Belinda Dunstan’s residency.

At Fuji Xerox, Dr Silvera-Tawil planned and executed the first joint experiment between the university and the corporate technology leader in human-robot interaction. Dr Silvera-Tawil investigated long-term, non-intrusive methods for sensing and interpretation of affective states of office employees, particularly those detrimental for health, such as stress and depression.

The aim of the project was to identify patterns that could be used to predict such affective states before their health was significantly affected. Belinda Dunstan worked with the Fuji Xerox Research and Technology Group at the Incubation Centre in Yokohama Japan, to design the exterior morphology of two social robotics systems the team had built. The design was informed by the preliminary research of her PhD. The internship resulted in a resolved working prototype, a digital 3D model, and a shared design patent.

As part of the reciprocal arrangement, senior engineer Akira Ichiboshi from Fuji Xerox recenlty visited UNSW's CRL to work on a series of touch and interaction experiments. This visit encouraged Fuji Xerox (Japan) to further invest in UNSW to develop research on robotics in the workplace.

Titled Robots at Work this joint project explores long-term human robot interaction in an office environment at Fuji Xerox. It will create a novel robot that incorporates interchangeable components that staff members can remove from the robot and use as wearable objects that act as touch-sensitive interfaces for bidirectional communication between the wearer and the robot. Revolutionary techniques will be developed in order to allow untrained staff members to teach the robot, through demonstration, new social behaviours and work tasks. This will contribute to fluent and engaging longitudinal interactions between humans and robots. The realisation of this project will place Australia at the forefront of the rapidly growing field of social robotics.

UNSW's CRL examines human interactions with three-dimensional robotic agents and responsive structures within the context of experimental arts and social robotics. The lab aims to provide a structured environment that facilitates the creation of experimental interfaces and the promotion of human-robot interaction in physical spaces.

Launched in 2013, the CRL is a partnership between Art & Design, the School of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), and the School of Psychology at UNSW, along with the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) at the University of Sydney.