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

Designing robots for cityness

To focus on the fundamental question of what makes a good city, one approach is to explore how robots or urban technologies can enhance the desirable qualities of city life. To address this issue, the term “cityness” will be used to refer to these desirable qualities. Although this may seem indirect, it offers a clear connection between the design and use of robots and the broader discussion of what makes a city desirable.


The concept of “cityness” was introduced by Sassen to describe non-western or novel forms of urbanity. Robots may contribute to a new urban future outside of traditional norms. Like a street vendor in Midtown Manhattan, who brings people from different walks of life together, robots can foster interactions with and between many people, creating a sense of “cityness.” They can serve as an invitation for engagement and create intersections in public spaces, encouraging people to meet and experience the city. Considering cityness in relation to self-driving vehicles may encourage the design of alternative modes of (semi-)public transportation that enable people to meet or experience the presence of others. Robots can contribute to the city virtues suggested by Young’s work on the city as a normative ideal. They can foster the erotic aspect of city life, which involves encountering the novel, strange, and surprising. Robots may also facilitate the ideal of social differentiation without exclusion by being open to and respectful of various user groups. However, they can also pose a threat by amplifying social sorting and contributing to the “code/space” phenomenon. It is crucial to be aware of this potential threat (Nagenborg, 2020).


Nagenborg, M. (2020). Urban robotics and responsible urban innovation. Ethics and Information Technology, 22(4), 345-355.