Call: “The Forgotten in HRI: Incidental Encounters with Robots in Public Spaces” HRI 2020 Workshop

Call for Papers

HRI 2020 Workshop “The Forgotten in HRI: Incidental Encounters with Robots in Public Spaces”
Monday, March 23, 2020
Cambridge, UK

Workshop at the 15th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction



January 31, 2020:  Submission deadline for workshop papers
February 22, 2020:  Notification of acceptance
March 23, 2020:  Workshop


HRI research has predominantly focused on laboratory studies, producing a fundamental understanding of how humans interact with robots in controlled settings. As robots transition out of research and development labs into the real world, HRI research must adapt. We argue that it should widen its scope to explicitly include people who do not deliberately seek an interaction with a robot (users) but find themselves in coincidental presence with robots. We refer to this often-forgotten group as InCoPs (incidentally copresent persons). In this one-day workshop, we aim to explore studies, design approaches, and methodologies for testing robots in real-world environments, considering both users and InCoPs. The first part of the workshop will consist of invited talks addressing the subject from different angles, followed by plenary discussions. Building upon this common basis, participants will then work in small groups to explore (a) human behavior found in empirical studies, (b) robot and interaction design and (c) methodology, respectively. This group phase in the second half of the day will focus on the exemplary scenario of delivery robots in urban environments. At the end, key aspects across all three topics will be identified and discussed to map out research needs and desirable next steps in the field.


The first part of this full-day workshop will include of invited talks as well as 10 minute presentations based on submitted papers with 5 minutes of discussion.

Invited speakers:

  • Dr. Astrid Weiss, Technical University Vienna: “Bystanders as informants for HRI in public space”
  • Dr. Dylan James Moore, Stanford University: “The Design of Implicit Pedestrian-Autonomous Vehicle Interactions”.

In the second part of the workshop, a delivery robot will be introduced by the workshop hosts via a brief video as a common example for the work phase. Groups of up to 10 people will focus on the following topics:

  1. Human behavior – What types of behaviors have been observed or are to be expected from InCoPs when encountering a robot?
  2. Design – How to design for InCoPs? How is it different from designing for a user?
  3. Methodology – How to study the behavior and experience of InCoPs in the real world?

Accompanied by a moderator from the team of workshop organizers, participants will share and discuss ideas and lessons learned from their own background. Beyond the exchange of experiences, each group will include societal and ethical issues as well as what they consider needs for action. The workshop will conclude with each group presenting their ideas developed in the work phase and discussing them in plenary.


We invite participants from all fields in HRI who are concerned with bringing robots into the real world. We would like to represent the diversity of fields in HRI in our workshop to gather innovative ideas and have fruitful discussions. However, we will especially focus on scenarios of coincidental human-robot encounters in the wild and welcome participants designing for and studying these encounters.


Submissions can range from technical navigation and control topics that explicitly considered InCoPs over designing robots and their interaction with humans, psychological theories and empirical field studies of robots, to ethical and societal issues with robots in wild. We welcome theoretical papers and position papers as well as empirical studies and design and development concepts of 4 pages maximum in PDF format following the proceeding specifications of LBRs to Astrid Rosenthal-von der Pütten until January 31, 2020.

Submissions will be peer-reviewed by February 22nd and accepted authors will be asked to give a 10 minute presentation.

The following topics are exemplary:

  1. Human behavior, e.g., verbal and nonverbal behavior (e.g. to negotiate the right of way), explorative behavior, robot abuse or robot bullying, attempted thefts, etc.
  2. Design, e.g., approaches to approximating the very diverse group of InCoPs, approaches to testing and validating robot design in the wild, etc.
  3. Methodology, e.g., the role of field studies and exploratory studies, the use of qualitative data and mixed methods; potentials and limits of covert observation studies, etc.


Astrid Rosenthal-von der Pütten, Chair Individual and Technology at RWTH Aachen University.

Laura Platte, Chair Individual and Technology at RWTH Aachen University.

Anna M. H. Abrams, Chair Individual and Technology at RWTH Aachen University.

David Sirkin, Director for Interaction Design at Stanford University’s Center for Design Research

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