Call: Conference on Social Robots in Institutional Interaction

Call for Abstracts

Conference on Social Robots in Institutional Interaction: Exploring HRI in Service, Healthcare or Educational Contexts
2-3 April 2020
Bielefeld University

Organizers: Indra Bock & Florian Muhle

Submission deadline: 10 January 2020

Humanoid robots and virtual agents are expected to interact with humans in a natural and sociable way. However, for many years humanoid technical systems were mainly used as research platforms in laboratories and HRI was investigated dominantly with experimental methods. That is, for a long time humans could only encounter robotic systems under artificial and controlled laboratory conditions, but not in natural situations. This has changed in recent years, since the first robotic systems made the leap into everyday life settings. Today, robots like Pepper, Nao or Care-O-bot have left the laboratories in order to work in various institutional environments such as health care, customer service or educational institutions, where they make contact with the public and staff.

While HRI research under laboratory conditions mainly relies on controlled experimental studies, as is usual in the fields of psychology and cognitive science, we assume that the analysis of HRI in complex real world settings calls for different approaches. More precisely, we suppose that it is especially interactional and ethnographic approaches, which could be helpful to investigate human-robot encounters in concrete situations, since they are dedicated to analyze naturally occurring situations and interactions ‘in the wild’.

Against this background the conference aims to bring together HRI researchers who (1) are concerned with the institutional use of robots, (2) investigate forms and possibilities of interaction between humans and robotic systems in natural settings, (3) observe the development of robotic systems for institutional settings, or (4) are interested in how institutions and organizations are changed by the use of robots.

We are looking forward to theoretical, methodological or empirical proposals that focus on the following questions (for example):

  • What are adequate methods for investigating institutional HRI?
  • What are forms and characteristics of institutional HRI?
  • How are human-robot encounters framed and shaped by institutional settings?
  • How can institutional HRI in different settings be compared?
  • How useful are comparisons with HHI and HCI in the analysis of institutional HRI?
  • How do social robots and agents get prepared for institutional interaction?
  • What kind of assumptions about institutional interaction are implemented into robotic systems?
  • How do working environments change due to the integration of robotic systems?

The conference serves as concluding conference of the research project “Communication at the Borders of the Social World” funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

The submission deadline for abstracts is 10 January 2020.

Authors are requested to submit abstracts of up to one page in length. Please send your abstracts to


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