Karl MacDorman's research concerns developing androids (very human-looking robots) as controlled experimental apparatuses and as testbeds for theories about human brains and behavior. His advances in developing more humanlike androids are being used to better understand the cognitive mechanisms underlying social interaction.
A human-looking robot is able to elicit the kinds of social responses that only people were able to elicit before. It has the potential to contribute to cognitive science research by serving as an experimental apparatus that can be more precisely controlled than any human actor. This permits the testing of hypotheses that cannot be tested by other means.
Androids have a number of potential applications. They can serve as patient simulators to help doctors, nurses and dentists better learn human responses and better care for patients. Teachers can learn how their students learn, and students can gain the communication skills they need for their professional careers. Even police officers can learn how to better "read" the people they question and discover the truth.
Professor MacDorman's work to develop future generations of androids that can be used to study human motivations and interactions is another example of how IUPUI's faculty members are TRANSLATING their RESEARCH INTO PRACTICE