Designing Robots with the Context in Mind- One Design Does Not Fit All

Ela Liberman-Pincu*, Elmer D. van Grondelle, Tal Oron-Gilad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Robots’ visual qualities (VQs) impact people’s perception of their characteristics and affect users’ behaviors and attitudes toward the robot. Recent years point toward a growing need for Socially Assistive Robots (SARs) in various contexts and functions, interacting with various users. Since SAR types have functional differences, the user experience must vary by the context of use, functionality, user characteristics, and environmental conditions. Still, SAR manufacturers often design and deploy the same robotic embodiment for diverse contexts. We argue that the visual design of SARs requires a more scientific approach considering their multiple evolving roles in future society. In this work, we define four contextual layers: the domain in which the SAR exists, the physical environment, its intended users, and the robot’s role. Via an online questionnaire, we collected potential users’ expectations regarding the desired characteristics and visual qualities of four different SARs: a service robot for an assisted living/retirement residence facility, a medical assistant robot for a hospital environment, a COVID-19 officer robot, and a personal assistant robot for domestic use. Results indicated that users’ expectations differ regarding the robot’s desired characteristics and the anticipated visual qualities for each context and use case.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman-Friendly Robotics 2022 - HFR
Subtitle of host publication15th International Workshop on Human-Friendly Robotics
EditorsPablo Borja, Cosimo Della Santina, Luka Peternel, Elena Torta
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-22730-1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event15th International Workshop on Human-Friendly Robotics, HFR 2022 - Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 22 Sept 202223 Sept 2022

Publication series

NameSpringer Proceedings in Advanced Robotics
ISSN (Print)2511-1256
ISSN (Electronic)2511-1264


Conference15th International Workshop on Human-Friendly Robotics, HFR 2022

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Context-driven design
  • Socially assistive robot
  • Visual qualities


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