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Beyond Voice Assistants: Exploring Advantages and Risks of an In-Car Social Robot in Real Driving Scenarios

Yuanchao Li, Lachlan Urquhart, Nihan Karatas, Shun Shao, Hiroshi Ishiguro, Xun Shen

In-car Voice Assistants (VAs) play an increasingly critical role in automotive user interface design. However, existing VAs primarily perform simple 'query-answer' tasks, limiting their ability to sustain drivers' long-term attention. In this study, we investigate the effectiveness of an in-car Robot Assistant (RA) that offers functionalities beyond voice interaction. We aim to answer the question: How does the presence of a social robot impact user experience in real driving scenarios? Our study begins with a user survey to understand perspectives on in-car VAs and their influence on driving experiences. We then conduct non-driving and on-road experiments with selected participants to assess user experiences with an RA. Additionally, we conduct subjective ratings to evaluate user perceptions of the RA's personality, which is crucial for robot design. We also explore potential concerns regarding ethical risks. Finally, we provide a comprehensive discussion and recommendations for the future development of in-car RAs.

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