SharedSpace 2018-2020

FWF project SharedSpace: Exploring Long-Term Human-Robot Interaction: What makes people accept or reject companion robots?

  • 3-years project, starts in 2018fwf-logo_var2
  • single person project (Elise Richter programme).
  • Principal investigator; 250.000 €


This project is situated in the research landscape of human-centered Human-Robot Interaction. The working buddy-family-companion-robothypothesis is that the interaction of ordinary users with a social companion robot (in this project the commercially available robot BUDDY) changes over time and that its adoption and acceptance differ in terms of the socio-demographic qualities of the involved households.

Similar long-term field studies were conducted with Roomba robots in the U.S. in 2007/08 and in Europe in 2011. The proposed research is similar in terms of methodology, but it is significantly different in one main aspect: the type of robot. BUDDY is a social companion robot, which does not take over an existing household task such as vacuum cleaning. It is a new entity in the household that can be “used” and integrated in everyday life in a variety of ways, but above all it serves as companion and not as “smart automation” of household chores. As they have not achieved the technology readiness level yet, the effects of social companion robots were mainly studied in the laboratory or short-term, but not over a long-term period “in the wild” with end users. This research contributes new data to the framework of long-term acceptance of robots in homes, namely the Domestic Robot Ecology. Moreover, the data from the field trials will be used to derive guidelines on how to increase social engagement of companion robots for long-term interaction.

The main goal is to gain detailed empirical evidence on the adoption and acceptance processes from a relatively small sample (eight households) over a longer period of time (eight months), therefore an ethnographic approach is chosen as methodology. Several household visits accompanied by specific field tools and techniques (semi-structured qualitative interviews, Day Reconstruction Method, drawing/tinkering activities, short questionnaires/rating scales) will be performed. A baseline of existing household routines will be established in a pre-visit before households receive a BUDDY and are firstly regularly visited over a period of six months. After half a year, the absence of BUDDY and its impact on the social household dynamics will be studied by giving it back for one month, after a one-month break.