Enhancing Non-Anthropomorphic Robots: Exploring Social Cues for Seamless Human-Robot Interaction

Various types of robots are entering many contexts of life, such as homes, public spaces and factories. Social robots interact with people using conventions and interaction modalities that are prevalent in human-human interaction. While many social robots are anthropomorphic, non-anthropomorphic robots, such as vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, and barista robots, are getting more common for everyday tasks. The purpose of this research is to explore how people’s interaction with non-anthropomorphic robots can benefit from human-like social cues.

The main research question of this micro-project is: What kind of social cues can be used for human-robot interaction (HRI) with non-anthropomorphic robots? Social interactions will be supported by robots’ gestures, sounds and visual cues. Different robotic parts such as arms or antennas can be designed to extend expressivity. The designs will be tested with a specified scenario and user group, such as factory workers or elderly people. The exact scenario will be defined at the start of the project. Two parallel studies will be conducted, one in LMU and one in ITS. In LMU, a prototype or mock-up will be designed and built. In ITS, one of their robots will be used to test the same scenario. The evaluations will be explorations of different social cues, and based primarily on qualitative user evaluation.

The proposed research aligns well with the WP3 focus on human-AI collaboration, more specifically by investigating human-centered techniques for common grounding between people and robots. The research will lead to novel understanding of how robots can give social cues to improve multimodal human-robot interaction in various usage contexts.


– Prototype/mock-up of a socially supportive non-anthropomorphic robot
– User study report, with insights of the types of robotic parts and social cues that improve human-robot interaction in the selected scenarios
– Paper submitted to a conference or journal of HRI

Project Partners

  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU), Albrecht Schmidt
  • Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), Ana Paiva
  • Tampere University, Finland, Kaisa Väänänen

Primary Contact

Albrecht Schmidt, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU)