"Towards physical-social human-robot interaction"


Marie dancing with Seven

Francisco dancing with Seven


Live virtual session

  • When
    • July 19 from 11:30 to 15:30 (CEST)
    • July 22 from 11:30 to 15:30 (CEST)
  • A detailed program will be published shortly.
  • Link to live session tbd


Robots will continue to permeate our daily lives in the coming future, making human-robot interaction (HRI) a crucial research topic. Robots will find themselves interacting with humans in a variety of situations, such as manufacturing, disaster recovery, household and health care settings. Many of these situations will require the robot to enter in direct contact with humans, resulting in very close physical HRI (pHRI) scenarios. To make humans feel comfortable with the interaction, robots need to act not only in a reliable and safe way, but also in a socially and psychologically acceptable one. Current pHRI research largely focuses on interacting with the human through an object or passively waiting for the human to start the interaction. On the other side, social HRI (sHRI) is so far mainly concerned with distanced HRI through speech and gestures.

The objectives of this workshop are to:

  1. bring together the pHRI and sHRI research communities, and
  2. generate discussions consolidating these two fields, for instance on the social and ethical implications of physical contact in HRI, as well as the use of non-verbal communication through gestures, robot design, appearance or control

Topics of interest

  • Humanoid robots
  • Wearable robots, exoskeletons
  • Physical human-robot interaction
  • Social human-robot interaction
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Emotional body language
  • Ethics
  • Safety
  • Physical and social aspects of human-human-collaboration
  • Sensor technology for physical-social human-robot interaction
  • Controllers for physical-social human-robot-interaction


Expected attendance

We expect to attract an audience from the fields of physical and social HRI research, including industrial and academic participants, users and developers of robots that work closely with people.


Marie CharbonneauDr. Marie Charbonneau

Post-doctoral fellow in the Human-Centred Robotics and Machine Intelligence lab, University of Waterloo

Email: marie.charbonneau@uwaterloo.ca

Francisco Andrade ChavezDr. Francisco Andrade Chavez

Post-doctoral fellow and lab manager in the Human-Centred Robotics and Machine Intelligence lab, University of Waterloo

Email: fandrade@uwaterloo.ca

Katja MombaurProfessor and Chair Katja Mombaur

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Human-Centred Robotics and Machine Intelligence, University of Waterloo

Email: katja.mombaur@uwaterloo.ca

Preliminary list of speakers

Arash AjoudaniArash Ajoudani

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia

Socio-physical Interaction Skills for Human-plus-Robot Manufacturing Systems

This talk will  introduce new core robotic technologies for cooperative human-robot systems. The objectives are to achieve a reconfigurable and resource-efficient production and improve human comfort in automation. Therefore, I will give an overview of the human anticipatory models and robot reactive controllers developed in the HRI2 laboratory of the Italian Institute of Technology.


Kerstin DautenhahnKerstin Dautenhahn

University of Waterloo

The physical and the social aspects of HRI - Two sides of the same Coin?!

My talk will draw on my experience in human-robot interaction experiments that often included both "social" and "physical" interaction. I will briefly describe a few example projects and associated challenges.


Matej HoffmannMatej Hoffmann

Czech Technical University in Prague

Whole-body awareness for safe and natural HRI: from humans to humanoids

During physical human-robot interaction, safety can be in principle achieved in two ways. First, in the so-called power and force limiting regime, it is by limiting the impact forces a moving robot can exert on the human collaborator. I will show our recent work on collaborative manipulators where we introduce a data-driven methodology to learn a 3D collision-force-map which, unlike the existing ISO standards, importantly considers the robot position in the workspace. Second, safety can be warranted through speed and separation monitoring. I will illustrate how combining both regimes can further boost productivity. Finally, I will show how robots with artificial electronic skins and awareness of the space around them (peripersonal space / interpersonal social zones) can further boost performance and, importantly, acceptance by humans.


Yue HuYue Hu

Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology

Interact with me: active physical HRI

Two research directions have been trying to breach the barrier between humans and robots: physically (pHRI), and socially (sHRI), which have been evolving without many intersections. But for robots to really coexist and collaborate with humans, it is necessary to take into account both physical and social interactions. We define active physical human-robot interaction (active pHRI) as a type of interaction during the robot should be able to achieve tasks optimally, efficiently, safely, and at the same time take into account the perception of human users. In this talk, I will illustrate the experiments performed to target a fundamental step towards achieving active pHRI: understanding the relationships between the human's perceptions and their measurable data when a robot takes direct active physical actions on the human, with insights on outcomes, applications, and developments.


Serena IvaldiSerena Ivaldi


Collaborating with humanoids: mixing social and physical interaction

When humanoids collaborate with humans to help them in some tasks, it is very critical to ensure that the physical interaction between the two partner is safe: this requirement is the most important objective for the whole-body control of the robot, which must ensure an appropriate control of the physical interaction forces to not compromise the equilibrium of the two and possibly to minimize the efforts. 
However, physical interaction is only one type of nonverbal interaction; it should at least consider the effect of other communication channels, typically studied in social interaction. 
In this talk I will present some of our experimental studies that involve humans interacting physically and socially with humanoid robots. I will discuss our findings regarding verbal and non-verbal communication during physical contact, trust towards the humanoid’s decisions, intention prediction, and how we are considering some of these findings to improve the humanoid’s control.

  • Gordon Cheng, Technical University of Munich: Full-body multi-contact HRI
  • Francesco Ferro, PAL Robotics
  • Hiroshi Ishiguro, Osaka University: Studies on proximity HRI
  • Dana Kulic, Monash University: Robots in Public Spaces: Functionality vs Acceptability
  • Matthieu Lapeyre, Pollen Robotics: Reachy: open source interactive humanoid platform to explore real world applications
  • Claudia Latella, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia: Human wearable technologies for agent-robot perception framework.
  • Dongheui Lee, Technical University of Munich: Effects of biomimetic Robot Light Touch Haptic Feedback on Human Body Sway Dynamics
  • AJung Moon, McGill University: Ethics risks of human-robot collaboration
  • Selma Music, Technical University of Munich: Haptic Control Sharing Based on Game-Theoretical Concepts

Talks by organizers:

  • Katja Mombaur: Challenges and applications of close physical-social human robot interaction
  • Marie Charbonneau : Physical HRI with the REEM-C

With the following structural elements, we will encourage a lively discussion between the speakers and the audience: (i) podium discussion, involving physical HRI and social HRI speakers, at the end of the second day. We will provide a way for participants to submit questions or points to discuss before the event, and a moderator will be able to take questions that arise during the discussion.

Preliminary Program

The workshop is to be held online, with live presentations and interactive sessions spread over two half days:

  • July 19 from 11:30 to 15:30 (CEST)
  • July 22 from 11:30 to 15:30 (CEST)

A detailed program will be published here shortly.