New research from Georgia Institute of Technology shows that when given the choice between robots with a human appearance, a mix of human and robotic appearance, or a strictly robotic appearance, 60% of older adults want robots with human faces, and only 6% want ones that have a mixed human-robot appearance. College-aged adults preferred robotic-looking faces, though they were open to the other two choices as well.

GIT’s new study, led by psychology graduate student Akanksha Prakash (pictured), follows Georgia Tech’s research on the willingness of older adults to accept robots into their daily lives. People were judged by their preference on what an assistive robot of the future should look like. How people made such preferences for robotic appearance varied across tasks. The use of robots as assistants in the health care field was an associated study.
Older and younger people agreed that they would prefer mechanical-looking robots for personal-care tasks such as bathing, a preference based on privacy concerns.  

When it came to helping with chores, most older and younger people chose a robot with a robotic face. But when it came to taking advice such as where to invest money, younger participants tended to select a mixed human-robot appearance. Older adults leaned towards a human face and a robotic face was the least favored choice for this task.

Social tasks were the final criteria for the experiment. Both age groups preferred a human face for assistive robots. They wanted a customizable human face on the robot when it works in the home, such as an intelligent look rather than a humorous expression. The research will continue and study the preferences of more age groups with diverse educational backgrounds.