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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.


Ljungblad S, Serholdt S, Milosevic T, Ni N, Toft Nørgard R, Lindgren P, Ess C, Barendregt W, Obaid M. Critical Robotics – Exploring a New Paradigm, To appear in Extended Abstracts Nordichi ACM. 2018.

Serholt, S. (2018). Breakdowns in children's interactions with a robotic tutor: A longitudinal study. Computers in Human Behavior, 81, 250-264.

Jordan, P., Mubin, O., Obaid, M., & Silva, P. A. (2018). Exploring the Referral and Usage of Science Fiction in HCI Literature. arXiv preprint arXiv:1803.08395.

Obaid, M., Baykal, G. E., Yantaç, A. E., & Barendregt, W. (2018). Developing a Prototyping Method for Involving Children in the Design of Classroom Robots. International Journal of Social Robotics, 10(2), 279-291.



Gao, A.Y., Barendregt, W. and Castellano, G., 2017. Personalised Human-Robot Co-Adaptation in Instructional Settings using Reinforcement Learning. In Persuasive Embodied Agents for Behavior Change (PEACH2017) Workshop at the International conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA2017).

Serholt, S., Barendregt, W., Vasalou, A., Alves-Oliveira, P., Jones, A., Petisca, S., & Paiva, A. (2017). The case of classroom robots: teachers’ deliberations on the ethical tensions. AI & SOCIETY, 32(4), 613-631.

Serholt, S. (2017). Child–Robot Interaction in Education. Ph.D Thesis, Gothenburg University

Romanowski, A., Mayer, S., Lischke, L., Grudzień, K., Jaworski, T., Perenc, I., ... & Wozniak, P. W. (2017, May). Towards supporting remote cheering during running races with drone technology. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 2867-2874). ACM.

Yeh, A., Ratsamee, P., Kiyokawa, K., Uranishi, Y., Mashita, T., Takemura, H., Fjeld, M. and Obaid, M., 2017, October. Exploring Proxemics for Human-Drone Interaction. In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Human Agent Interaction (pp. 81-88). ACM.



Hall, L., Hume, C., Tazzyman, S., Deshmukh, A., Janarthanam, S., Hastie, H., Aylett, R., Castellano, G., Papadopoulos, F., Jones, A., Corrigan, L., Paiva, A., Alves-Oliveira, P., Ribeiro, T., Barendregt, W., Serholt, S., & Kappas, A. (2016, March). Map reading with an empathic robot tutor. In 2016 11th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) (pp. 567-567). IEEE.

Ljungblad, S., Serholt, S., Barendregt W., Lindgren, P., Obaid, M. (2016) Are we Really Addressing the Human in Human-Robot Interaction? Adopting the Phenomenologically-Situated Paradigm. In Proceedings of the International Research Conference Robophilosophy 2016: IOS Press.

Sandoval EB, Brandstetter J., Obaid, M., Bartneck C. Reciprocity in Human-Robot Interaction: A Quantitative Approach Through the Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Ultimatum Game
- International Journal of Social Robotics, 2016

Serholt, S. Barendregt, W. (2016) Robots Tutoring Children: Longitudinal Evaluation of Social Engagement in Child-Robot Interaction. In Proceedings of NordiCHI’16: ACM Press.

Serholt, S., Barendregt, W., Küster, D., Jones, A., Alves-Oliveira, P., & Paiva, A. (2016). Students' Normative Perspectives on Classroom Robots. In Proceedings of the International Research Conference Robophilosophy 2016: IOS Press.

Serholt, S., Barendregt, W., Vasalou, A., Alves-Oliveira, P., Jones, A., Petisca, S., & Paiva, A. (2016). The case of classroom robots: teachers’ deliberations on the ethical tensions. AI & SOCIETY, 1-19.

Obaid M., Evren Yantac, A., Barendregt W. Kırlangıc G., Goksun T. (2016) Robo2Box: A Toolkit to Elicit Children's Design Requirements for Classroom Robots. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Social Robotics 2016: Springer International Publishing, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence series (LNAI).

Colley, A., Virtanen, L., Knierim, P. and Häkkilä, J., 2017, November. Investigating drone motion as pedestrian guidance. In Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (pp. 143-150). ACM.



Jones, A., Küster, D., Basedow, C. A., Alves-Oliveira, P., Serholt, S., Hastie, H., Corrigan, L. J., Barendregt, W., Kappas, A., Paiva, A., & Castellano, G. (2015). Empathic Robotic Tutors for Personalised Learning: A Multidisciplinary Approach. In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR’15) (pp. 285-295). Springer International Publishing.

Mubin, O., Obaid, O., Barendregt, W., Simoff, S., Fjeld, M. (2015) Science Fiction and the Reality of HCI: Inspirations, Achievements or a Mismatch. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Australian Special Interest Group for Computer Human Interaction

Mubin O., Obaid M., Sandoval, E., Fjeld M. (2015) Using Video Preferences to Understand the Human Perception of Real and Fictional Robots. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Human-Agent Interaction, 33-39

Obaid, M., Barendregt, W., Alves-Oliveira, P., Paiva, A., Fjeld, M. (2015) Designing Robotic Teaching Assistants: Interaction Design Students’ and Children’s Views. International Conference on Social Robotics, 502-511

Barendregt, W., & Serholt, S. (2015). Evaluation of an Empathic Robotic Tutor for Geography and Sustainability Learning. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR’15): 1st Workshop on Evaluating Child-Robot Interaction, Paris, France.



Serholt, S., Basedow, C. A., Barendregt, W., & Obaid, M. (2014, November). Comparing a humanoid tutor to a human tutor delivering an instructional task to children. In Proceedings of the 2014 IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (pp. 1134-1141).

Barendregt, W., Paiva, A., Kappas, A., Vasalou, A., Heath, C., Serholt, S., Basedow, C., & Alves-Oliveira, P. (2014, June). Child–robot interaction: Social bonding, learning and ethics. In Workshop proceedings of Interaction Design and Children Conference IDC14.

Sandoval, E.B., Mubin, O., & Obaid, M., Human Robot Interaction and Fiction: A Contradiction. International Conference on Social Robotics, 2014

Obaid, M. Kistler, F. Häring, M. Bühling, R. André, E. (2014) A framework for user-defined body gestures to control a humanoid robot. International Journal of Social Robotics, 2014.

Serholt, S., Barendregt, W., Leite, I., Hastie, H., Jones, A., Paiva, A., Vasalou, M., Castellano, G. (2014). Teachers’ Views on the Use of Empathic Robotic Tutors in the Classroom. In Proceedings of the 23rd IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN'14), Edinburgh, UK, (pp. 955-960).

Serholt, S., Barendregt W. (2014) Students’ attitudes towards the possible future of social robots in education. Paper presented at the 23rd IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN’14): Workshop on Philosophical Perspectives of HRI, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.



Castellano, G., Paiva, A., Kappas, A., Aylett, R., Hastie, H., Barendregt, W., Nabais, F., Bull, S. (2013, July). Towards empathic virtual and robotic tutors. In International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education (pp. 733-736). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Deshmukh, A., Castellano, G., Kappas, A., Barendregt, W., Nabais, F., Paiva, A., Ribeiro, T., Leite, I., & Aylett, R. (2013, March). Towards empathic artificial tutors. In Proceedings of the 8th ACM/IEEE international conference on Human-robot interaction (pp. 113-114). IEEE Press.

Serholt, S., Barendregt, W., Ribeiro, T., Castellano, G., Paiva, A., Kappas, A., Aylett, R., & Nabais, F. (2013). EMOTE: Embodied-perceptive tutors for empathy-based learning in a game environment. In: Escudeiro P and Vaz de Carvalho C (eds) Proceedings of the 7th European Conference on Games Based Learning (ECGBL'13). Porto, Portugal, 790-792. Academic Conferences International Limited.

Jacobsson, M., Fernaeus, Y., Cramer, H., Ljungblad, S. (2013) Crafting against robotic fakelore: on the critical practice of artbot artists. In CHI'13 Extended Abstracts

Logotyp för Applied Robotics in Gothenburg

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

Please contact Sara Ljungblad