More and more, researchers are working to create social robots that can interpret and give off non-verbal signals, like gestures, expressions, eye contact, and other cues. While the work is still very early-stage, such research lays the foundation for robots we may encounter in public settings one day.

Before robots can be truly useful in homes, schools, and hospitals, they must become capable of learning new skills. Andrea Thomaz, an assistant professor of interactive computing, wants them to learn from their users, so that experts don’t have to program every task. She aims to make robots that not only understand a human teacher’s verbal instructions and social signals but give social feedback of their own…

Read the rest of the article here. You can also watch a video of Simon in action, and see real robots practicing to be nurses and learning how to use eye contact.