Research Projects

basketball-playing robot called MyJay is part of a vision for a future in which social robots are accessible to children in public schools and libraries.

Ongoing Projects:

  1. Cognitive robotics and architectures for autonomous robots: The goal here is to facilitate human-robot co-learning and adaptation, taking into consideration e.g. interaction histories and autobiographic memory. These topics are studied in the general context of improving human-robot interaction as well as in targeted applications concerning smart home environments that include cognitive robot companions. An additional line of investigation concerns mechanisms of social learning in multi-agent robot scenarios. 
  2. Measuring and improving the quality of interaction and engagement in human-robot interactions. This includes research on using physiological sensors to enable adaptive human-robot interaction, partially supported by the grant “Physiologically Based Engagement Optimization”, funded by the Microsoft AI for Social Good initiative. Another line of investigation concerns the study and use of gaze behaviour in human-robot interaction. In addition, we are developing multi-modal interaction for human-robot interaction, including affective expressions, in search and rescue scenarios. 
  3. Robot-assisted therapy and education for children. Several projects in SIRRL are developing robots for children with special needs. This includes a collaboration with the Vancouver based Learning Disability Society ( Another line of investigation developed a novel robot, MyJay, for robot-assisted play for children with physical disabilities. Additionally, we explore the use of social robots to assist children who stutter. In the context of typically developing children, we explore using robots as social actors to teach children about bullying in order to support the development of coping strategies, in collaboration with Prof. James Young (University of Manitoba), and Prof. Andrew Houston (Waterloo, Communication Arts). 
  4. Social and intelligent robot companions assisting older people and their carers in home or care settings. Partially supported by a grant “Utilization of social robots for the care of people with dementia”, funded by Network for Ageing Research (NAR) Catalyst Grant, in collaboration with Professor Jesse Hoey (Computer Science) and Prof. Moojan Ghafurian (Engineering).
  5. Studying the use of social robots to address mental wellbeing, e.g. to support people with social anxiety, or the use of social robots as a tool in the hands of clinicians.
  6. Biologically Inspired Robotics: Intelligent Systems for Trustworthy Human-Robot Co-learning and Adaptation. A five year NSERC Discovery grant. This includes the study of developing trustworthy human-robot interaction in cobot scenarios (robots as coworkers). In addition we study social learning and imitation in human-robot interaction, in particular regarding the role of a robot’s non-verbal cues and how it has an impact on human’s perception of the robot. 
  7. Fostering intergenerational contact between older people and children, mediated by robots (this is a collaboration with Prof. Jen Boger, Systems Design Engineering).

Previous projects recently completed:

  1. Safety Enables Cooperation in Uncertain Robotic Environments (Horizon2020 SECURE) project, coordinated by Prof. Stefan Wermter at University of Hamburg, Germany.
  2. Bringing together psychological (top-down) and biological (bottom-up) processes for enhancing human-robot interaction (HRI-BioPsy, funded by AFOSR). 
  3. Horizon 2020 Babyrobot project: (Child-Robot Communication and Collaboration: Edutainment, Behavioural Modelling and Cognitive Development in Typically Developing and Autistic Spectrum Children, coordinated by Prof. Costas Tzafestas and Prof. Alexandros Potamianos (Institute of Communication and Computer Systems, Athens, Greece). Professor Dautenhahn was PI for the University of Hertfordshire team.
  4. Trustworthy Robotic Assistants (2013-2016), funded by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC, UK). Professor Dautenhahn was the PI for the University of Hertfordshire team. The project was coordinated by Professor Michael Fisher (Liverpool, UK).