Human-Robot Interaction

(Left) A Pepper social robot in the Carnegie Mellon University Africa Robotics Lab in Rwanda, and
(Right) an Ubtech CRUZR service robot deployed by ZoraBots Africa Ltd. to check the temperature of travellers arriving at Kigali International Airport, Rwanda.


Course Description  |  Learning Objectives  |  Outcomes  |  Lecture Notes  |  Course Textbook  |  Recommended Reading |  Resources

Course Description

In the future, robots will increasingly become a part of our daily lives and we will interact with them and they with us: in our airports, hospitals, offices, shops, and homes, as well as in our factories. Human-robot interaction (HRI) is concerned with the problem of making this interaction natural and effective. It is a multidisciplinary field and includes elements of engineering, computer science, robotics, psychology, sociology, and design. This course explores the way in which these disciplines contribute to the field of HRI and it will give students the foundation needed to develop robot systems that can interact effectively with humans. The course is delivered through a mix of teaching, reading, and in-class discussion. Student progress is assessed by a series of multiple choice tests and written individual & group assignments. There are no prerequisites for taking this course although it would be an advantage to have taken 18-799-K Artificial Cognitive Systems.

Learning Objectives

Students will be introduced to the different disciplines that contribute to an understanding interaction and the role they play in developing a successful HRI system. The will learn about the different components of a robot and the software control of a robot. They will learn what is required for effective interaction between humans and robots. They will be introduced to the different interaction modalities – spatial, non-verbal, verbal, and emotional – and how they relate to robotics. Students will be learn about the problems that still exist in the field and how to assess possible solutions to these problems. They will also learn about current and future use of robots in society, in a variety of applications.


After completing this course, students will be able to do the following.

  1. Explain what elements are included in the field of human-robot interaction.

  2. Describe the physical parts that are commonly used in robotics and how they work.

  3. Identify the key elements to consider when designing a robot.

  4. Describe the major issues for robots in spatial interaction.

  5. Explain how robots can manage non-verbal interaction.

  6. Explain how robots can manage verbal interaction.

  7. Describe how emotions relate to robotics.

  8. Identify existing problems and explain how to assess potential solutions.

  9. List the major applications of robots and the issues related to them.

  10. Explain how robots are currently used in society and the associated ethical issues that arise.

  11. Identify what the future may hold for HRI.

Lecture Notes

Module 1: The Nature of Human-Robot Interaction
Lecture 1. Overview of Human-Robot Interaction.

Module 2: The Components, Structure, and Operation of a robot
Lecture 1. Robot hardware, sensors.
Lecture 2. Actuators, software, limitations of robotics for HRI.

Module 3: Design
Lecture 1. Physical design and anthropomorphism.
Lecture 2. Design methods, prototyping tools, culture in HRI design, & human-robot symbiosis.

Module 4: Interaction
Lecture 1. Spatial interaction.
Lecture 2. Nonverbal interaction.
Lecture 3. Human-human verbal interaction; speech recognition.
Lecture 4. Dialogue management; speech production.

Module 5: Emotion
Lecture 1. The roles of emotions in interaction.
Lecture 2. Emotions for robots.

Module 6: Applications
Lecture 1. It's a tough market & robots for X.
Lecture 2. Robots for X & problems with robot application.

Module 7: Robots in Society
Lecture 1. Robots in the popular media; ethics in HRI.
Lecture 1. The future of HRI.

Course Textbook

Bartneck, C., Belpaeme, T., Eyssel, F., Kanda, T., Keijsers, M., Sabanovic, S. (2020). Human-Robot Interaction - An Introduction, Cambridge University Press.

Recommended Reading

Mataric, M. The Robotics Primer , MIT Press, 2007.


Additional material can be found on my Wiki.