Repair Behaviours for Social Robots

Title:Repair Behaviours for Social Robots
Institute:University of Twente (HMI)
Place:Enschede The Netherlands
Type:final project
Start date:1 februari 2017
End date:not present
HMI ContactJered Vroon


When social robots make ‘mistakes’, that can influence how people think about them – can we change this effect by having a robot repair its mistakes?

Robots are becoming more prevalent in situations where they have to interact with people. At the University of Twente we investigate social robots within a variety of situations, from telepresence robot TERESA that mediates conversations between elderly, to EASEL supporting peer learning in elementary schools.

It is inevitable that robots will make mistakes in such social situations. If not because of technical limitations, then simply because social situations are inherently complex. Even we humans, despite our extensive experience, make mistakes quite commonly. Because of this, there is a whole range of behaviours used in human-human interaction that could repair such mistakes, from blushing to apologizing.

How could a robot try to repair mistakes, and what would be the effect of that? Preliminary results by one of our students, Derk Snijders, suggest that people think of a robot that apologizes after it invaded their personal space as more sensitive than one that does not invade their personal space at all. Well-chosen repair behaviours could thus mitigate the effect of social mistakes, and might even have positive effects on a variety of attitudes – from perceived reliability to perceived friendliness.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, will be to investigate this further. You will be expected to formulate relevant and feasible research questions within this topic based on existing literature, and to conduct a clean and well-designed experiment to investigate these research questions.
In addition to conducting research, you will be expected to design the repair behaviours for the robot. Programming these behaviours will not be necessary, since you can instead remote control it (‘Wizard of Oz’-approach).

Interested? Want to know more? Contact me at