Two researchers and a robot

Applied Robotics in Gothenburg

Research group
Active research
Project period
2013 - ongoing
Project owner
Avdelningen för interaktionsdesign, institutionen för Data- och informationsteknik

Short description

We want to both critically question and explore the idea of robotic support in relation to human needs and everyday practices. The research is characterised by participatory design and design approaches such as co-creation, studies, sketching, critical design and storytelling to understand users and different stakeholders perspectives, needs and desires. Our research results may both critically question or inform robotic solutions or propose other types of solutions.

Applied robotic research as we see it:

Understanding robotic challenges and opportunities based on existing human needs and desires from a holistic perspective

We, a team of researchers, designers and PhD students, want to question technology-driven research and instead seek to understand robotic solutions in relation to human needs and everyday practices. Currently, the kinds of methods and techniques that are prominently used in the research field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) are affecting the kind of research questions and perspectives investigated.

While there is a place and need for robotic-centered research focusing on what is possible with robots, we do think it may be time for the HRI field to explore the possibilities of adopting and developing a variety of new human-centered design and evaluation approaches. By opening up for streams of research focusing on more holistic and critical perspectives of what humans may need or not need from robotic solutions, our goal is to recognize when other solutions (i.e., outside the field of robotics) may be more legitimate.

Based on this vision, our aim is to work closely with citizens and stakeholders who want to engage in questions concerning the technological development. We aim to ground our research in participatory and inclusive design approaches by using storytelling, sketching and other design approaches that allow us to explore, understand and communicate a diversity of human needs, desires and experiences.

We want to reveal both opportunities and threats that people experience with robotic solutions. This is not merely a question about technological innovations, but concerns laws and regulations surrounding for example personal assistance, politics, societal challenges, social sustainable solutions, ethics, as well as aesthetical and social needs.

Our research

Although we are interested in robots in all their forms, we aim to always take into account the following question: what kind of solution do stakeholders need and why? We take humans’ needs as a point of departure and are ready to accept the answer that a robot is not the solution.

One of our projects concerns robotic tutors developed for use in education (, the underlying assumption being that social robots can present an innovative and useful way for students to learn. This project has actively involved stakeholders to contribute to the design of robotic tutors, as is common in a User-Centred Design approach. Teachers and students were for example consulted in order to study what their needs might be for a robotic tutor. One of the findings was that although teachers were curious about trying novel technologies, they also expressed issues of facing time constraints, making robots a potential extra burden if teachers would be required to take responsibility for practical things such as technical issues or establishing fair time distribution for students to work with the robot.

In another project we focused on understanding meals from the perspective of people that need meal assistance.  To understand challenges and possibilities with robot support in meals, we used long-term interviews and an experience workshop with people who needed human assistants or made use of an eating aid product called Bestic ( We learned that any solution (robotic or human) affects the perceived aesthetic qualities and the social qualities of the meal. For example, undesirable social qualities can concern privacy issues with a personal assistant being present in social situations, whereas undesirable social qualities with a robotic solution may concern issues such as spilling or attracting attention. We also found that there is a lack of everday solutions that a more advanced robotic platform may not have the answer to.

Based on the experiences in our previous projects we are now investigating the possibilities to create speculative design project with an organisation for independent living. This concerns how people using personal assistance can be the point of departure in a project, as active shapers of a critical understanding of robotic solutions.


  • Sara Ljungblad
  • Sofia Serholt
  • Mohammad Obaid
  • Pamela Lindgren
  • Mafalda Samuelsson Gamboa
  • Gordana Dodig Crnkovic
  • Ilaria Torres
Logotyp för Applied Robotics in Gothenburg

Are you interested in our research and want to collaborate with us?

Please contact Sara Ljungblad