Project Description

The work described below is affiliated with the R-House Human-Robot Interaction Lab (, which is a collaborative research group and space that brings together faculty, research staff, and students who study human-robot interaction (HRI). HRI is a field that explores how people perceive, respond to, and interact with robots, and how to better design robots so they can be used in everyday contexts, such as the home, work, education, or healthcare. If you are interested in such topics, we invite you to join us in our studies. In 2020/2021, we have several projects that students in the program could work with us on, as described below. The first project involves the design of communication and interaction capabilities for a new robot prototype, Haru (, developed by Honda Research Institute in Japan. We are working with Honda to design how the robot might talk to and help people in their homes, how it can be used as a remote presence platform, as well as how it can support intergenerational interaction between adults and children. The research project explores how to design appropriate behaviors and conversational capabilities for the robot so that it can support people's extended interactions with it, and motivate people to engage more with each other. We will specifically be developing appropriate conversational topics and utterances, as well as games and storytelling activities, for the robot to perform, and will evaluate them in the lab and field sites such as an intergenerational daycare facility for children and older adults, and a children's museum. Research activities for undergraduates on these projects include learning how to work with, program and control robots, recruiting and scheduling participants, running participants for studies in and outside the lab, going to relevant field sites with robots to observe human-robot interaction, collecting and managing textual, audio, and video data, discussing study design, results, and implications, attending regular lab meetings, and working closely with other faculty and students engaged in the project. There is a possibility for participating students to continue working with the group following the Center's Emerging Scholars Research Experience through other funding sources.

Technology or Computational Component

Our research investigates the connection between robots, as embodied computing technologies, and people. While working on the project, students will become familiar with interactive robotic technologies, study how different aspects of robot design affect people's perceptions of and reactions to robots, work on controlling and programming robots, and help us develop design recommendations for future robotic technologies. We will also discuss the potential societal implications of the robotic technologies we are developing.