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 from this program could work with us on. A second ongoing study involves patients and clinicians working together with researchers to design a socially assistive robot to provide support for, and as an intervention to alleviate the symptoms of, depression. For this project we focus on developing adaptive and personalizable interaction capabilities for Therabot (, an animal type companion robot. The project will allow both patients and clinicians to customize the capabilities and behaviors of the robot in order to improve patient health and well-being. Students will have the opportunity to work with us and participants on various design activities and workshops, in preparation for evaluation through longer-term use in patient homes and a local mental health clinic. 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 this program 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.