Social Robotics

The landscape of robotics is rapidly evolving, with profound implications for society, economics, and human interactions. The Social Robotics concentration at the MPI program at Bloustein addresses the transformative impact of robotic technologies across diverse domains, including transportation, manufacturing, elder care, and security. This concentration delves into critical questions surrounding the societal implications of robotics, emphasizing safety, adaptability to human needs, ethical considerations, and broader social impacts on labor markets, cities, and warfare. By exploring the intersection of robotics, machine learning, and computer vision with social and behavioral sciences such as psychology, public policy, and urban planning, the Socially Cognizant Robotics concentration seeks to develop a new breed of professionals equipped to navigate the complexities of this evolving field. Established under the NSF National Research Traineeship program titled “Socially Cognizant Robotics for a Technology Enhanced Society,” this interdisciplinary program fosters collaboration among diverse disciplines, including engineering, computer science, psychology, urban planning, and public informatics. The goal is to produce reflective practitioners who can bridge the gap between socially aware technologists and technology-aware social scientists, ultimately shaping the responsible development and deployment of robotic technologies in our society.

Concentration Requirements

  • 34:816:640/16:332:640 Robotics and Society (Fall)
  • 34:816:641/16:332:590 Socially Cognizant Robotics (Spring)
  • 16:332:595 Design Methods in Socially Cognizant Robotics (Fall)

Elective Course (Choose one)

  • 816:616:01 Research Practicum Study
  • A broad range of courses available from Bloustein and Other colleges at Rutgers – Students will coordinate with their advisors / Concentration Chair to select a suitable elective.

The Social Robotics concentration is suitable for:

The Social Robotics concentration is suitable for students with undergraduate degrees or currently enrolled in a graduate degree program in any field with necessary quantitative skills.

Why invest in the Social Robotics concentration?

  • Understand how to navigate the transformative social robotics landscape
  • Explore the ethical considerations and societal impacts of robotic technology
  • Learn how to develop robotics in a socially cognizant manner, addressing safety, adaptability to human needs, and broader social implications
  • Capitalize on a unique cross-listed program that fosters collaboration among technology domains and social and behavioral sciences

As embodied AI technologies—robots—progress, governments and organizations actively explore innovative applications to enhance existing systems and improve human lives, extending into the realm of robotics. The escalating societal concerns and the growing implementation of policies and regulations governing AI usage highlight the necessity for convergence between socially aware technologists and technology-aware social scientists. The challenges posed by the highly contagious COVID-19 virus during the pandemic prompted increased acceptance of robotic systems across various industries. Furthermore, globally emerging smart city strategies offer valuable insights into the urban future, emphasizing the explicit deployment of robotics applications including autonomous vehicles, intelligent buildings, and smarter infrastructure. Drones have played important roles in recent military conflicts and urban policing. Agriculture is being transformed by drone surveillance and autonomous planting, weeding, and harvesting equipment, with attendant consequences for labor demand. There has been a notable increase in regulations imposed by countries worldwide, addressing various aspects of robotics, such as data protection, product safety and liability, and facial recognition.

In the face of these advancements, the increasing applications of robotics are ushering in significant changes in individuals’ lives, livelihoods, and social relationships. The demand for experts capable of managing and evaluating the societal impacts of robotic technology, influencing next-generation advancements, is on the rise. The MPI Social Robotics concentration prepares you for this!

Why study Social Robotics?

Graduates of the Bloustein Master of Public Informatics Social Robotics concentration can tap into opportunities in social robotics research, governance, and consulting.

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