A designer has tried to invent robots with armpits and sweat glands. Let’s hear his reason.
As humans begin to rely more and more on robotic technology, many philosophers, artists and scientists have argued that our relationship with technology needs to change; that we should not think of robots as soulless droids invented to serve our every need, but as equals.
One may have the answer. A British designer, Kevin Grennan, told that it won’t be the fact they look like humans that will force us to recognise robots as possible equals. It will be how they smell.
“I’m interested in the future of human-robot empathy”, says Kevin. So, how about a robotic armpit complete with hair and a synthetic sweat gland that emulates the scent of human fear? “I chose the armpit because I was interested in using smell as a communication tool in human-robot interaction.”
Kevin specifically designed the smelly robotic armpit for a bomb disposal robot. As it goes about its work, the robot literally begins sweating, filling the air with the same kinds of chemicals produced by humans when they’re afraid.
The designer said experiments show that such fear triggers have the potential to enhance a human’s cognitive performance. The armpit releases a chemical called androstadienone, which is found in male sweat. This has be shown in research to affect mood in females under certain circumstances.
“I have speculated that this robot, when used on a production line, could enhance the performance of female employees in its vicinity.”
It is important that we feel some kind of empathy towards robots. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to think of them as humans just like us, but merely that we should understand the tasks that they can and cannot do and be willing to assist them when necessary.