Action-Oriented Research

Our engineers engage with the village community members and understand the context in which solutions need to be designed, ultimately designing with the community itself.

Technologists who are removed from problems and contexts end up designing technologies which are either useless or end up causing harm to the intended population, and this is especially true in the case for technologies intended for rural development. AMMACHI Labs avoids this “amplification” effect by following an action oriented research approach, where our engineers go out into the villages, engage with the community and understand the context in which the solutions need to be designed, which they then follow with a mix of rapid prototyping and regular field tests, leading to practical and scalable solutions. Our focus is on making low-cost, durable and easily maintainable designs while making sure that the community being targeted are involved in the design process.

HRI in the wild in rural india

Often, we find that advanced technologies take only a few years to go from expensive to dirt cheap, thanks to the exponential nature of technological progress. This begs us to ask the question—What happens when the robots start coming into the villages? How would a technology illiterate user interact with them? We address these questions using an action-oriented approach grounded in ethnographic research, and we undertook a study to observe human robot interaction by observing the manner in which tribal youth ‘instructed’ a remotely operated Husky field robot to do certain tasks. These findings are being incorporated into the building of a gesture based control system for field robots which any villager will be able to operate with minimal training or supervision.