To date, the vast majority of contemporary robotic research has mainly concentrated on task accomplishment (navigate to reach goals, move objects, etc.) with only superficial (if at all) investigation of time perception issues. The inability of robots to perceive the flow of time hinders their integration into the real world, where nearly all human social and behavioural activities have strong time-dependent characteristics. The proposed project alters the traditional view of robotic research that focuses on complex behaviours, by inaugurating a new scientific branch that introduces the uniquely biological capacity of temporal cognition in robotic systems.

TimeStorm Novelty. The proposed work advocates temporal cognition as an essential capacity of intelligent systems that operate autonomously in human environments for extended periods of time. Consequently, TimeStorm demonstrates significant innovations since it:

  • Reveals time as an entity that should processed by artificial systems in its own right.
  • Puts forward time as the cognitive glue that integrates mind processes in a composite and meaningful whole that underpins social living.
  • Explores the temporal dimension of cognitive modalities that have been so far largely investigated in an “atemporal domain” (e.g. memory time-stamping, attention time-shifting).
  • Adopts for a first time a multi-modal investigation of time perception (e.g. duration perception, mental time travel, sense of present) and considers how the relevant modalities link to ordinary cognitive skills.
  • Implements artificial agents engaging in long-lasting symbiotic human-robot interaction.

TimeStorm Foundational Character. Due to the central role of time in cognition, behaviour, communication and social interaction, it is expected that the current work will significantly affect short- and long-term future research activities in cognitive systems. More specifically, TimeStorm has a strong foundational character because it paves the way for:

  • Implementing and studying in-silico temporal cognitive modalities.
  • Exploring interaction of time perception with other cognitive processes, keeping special interest in the directions of knowing, doing and being.
  • Investigating complex high-level cognitive skills, as most of them are strongly time-dependent (e.g. mind reading, cause attribution, imagination, creativity).