Course Content
Orientation, introduction to the course
1. Human-Robot Interaction (HRI)
2. Research Methods in Human-Robot Interaction
3. Smart Cities & HRI
The demand for city living is already high, and it appears that this trend will continue. According to the United Nations World Cities Report, by 2050, more than 70% of the world's population will be living and working in cities — one of many reports predicting that cities will play an important role in our future (UN-Habitat, 2022). Thus, as cities are growing in size and scope, it is shaped into complex urban landscape where things, data, and people interact with each other. Everything and everyone has become so connected that Wifi too often fails to meet digital needs, online orders don't arrive fast enough, traffic jams still clog the roads and environmental pollution still weighs on cities. New technologies, technical intelligence, and robots can contribute to the direction of finding solutions to ever-increasing problems and assist the evolution of the growing urban space.
Human-Robot Interaction
About Lesson

Introduction to Human-Robot Interaction

Human-robot interaction (HRI) is a field that explores the relationship between humans and robots (Bartneck, 2020). While the term HRI is relatively new, the concept has existed since the advent of robots. Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, who coined the term robotics, wrote stories centred on human-robot relationships, which have now become core research questions in the HRI field. HRI is related to disciplines such as human-computer interaction, robotics, artificial intelligence, philosophy of technology, and design. HRI is unique in that it involves physically embodied robots that interact with humans, and these robots are perceived as social actors with cultural meaning. HRI involves designing robots that can interact with people in various everyday environments, and this presents technical and design challenges. Social robots can serve as research tools to study psychological mechanisms and theories, as well as to explore how humans respond to social agents other than humans. HRI research also considers societal and organizational implementation and cultural sense-making, which is distinct from related disciplines.

The unique aspect of HRI is that it centres around the interaction between humans and social robots. Unlike other computing technologies, social robots are physically embodied and have cultural significance, which can impact society both presently and in the future. It’s important to note that simply having a robot with a physical form doesn’t make it equivalent to a computer on wheels. The design of a robot’s embodiment must be considered, taking into account its hardware and software, as well as its impact on people and the nature of interactions that can occur with the robot.

A robot’s physical form places limits on how it can perceive and interact with the world, but it also provides an opportunity for people to interact with it in a way that is similar to how they interact with other people. This similarity can be helpful in framing interactions, but it can also lead to frustration if the robot does not meet expectations. HRI focuses on creating robots that can interact with people in everyday environments, which presents technical and design challenges related to appearance, behaviour, and sensing capabilities. From a psychological perspective, studying human interaction with social robots offers a unique opportunity to understand human affect, cognition, and behaviour when interacting with non-human agents. HRI research considers various relationships between robots and humans, such as collaborators, companions, guides, tutors, and other types of social interaction partners, and examines how they affect society both now and in the future. HRI research also considers issues related to the design of technology and its implementation in society and culture, which sets it apart from related fields.

The field of HRI is inherently multidisciplinary and focused on problem-solving. It involves bringing together experts from various domains, including engineers, psychologists, designers, anthropologists, sociologists, and philosophers, as well as scholars from other research fields, to develop successful human-robot interactions. This collaboration is challenging due to differences in disciplinary terminology and practices, but participants share a common interest in HRI that motivates them to respect and understand diverse ways of acquiring knowledge. While HRI is similar to the field of human-computer interaction (HCI) in its multidisciplinary nature, its focus on embodied interactions with social agents distinguishes it from HCI.


A video that describes some of the work that a HRI laboratory does:

A video of Ameca, a humanoid robot that is  making jokes:


Bartneck, C. et al. (2020) Human-Robot Interaction: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available at: