Perceived Autonomy of Robots: Effects of appearance and context

Maaike Harbers, Marieke M.M. Peeters, Mark Neerincx

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

6 Citations (Scopus)


Due to advances in technology, the world around us contains an increasingnumber of robots, virtual agents, and other intelligent systems. These systems allhave a certain degree of autonomy. For the people who interact with an intelligentsystem it is important to obtain a good understanding of its degree of autonomy:what tasks can the system perform autonomously and to what extent? In this paperwe therefore present a study on how a system’s characteristics affect people’s perceptionof its autonomy. This was investigated by asking fire-fighters to rate theautonomy of a number of search and rescue robots in different shapes and situations.In this paper, we identify the following seven aspects of perceived autonomy: timeinterval of interaction, obedience, informativeness, task complexity, task implication,physical appearance, and physical distance to human operator. The study showed thatincreased disobedience, task complexity and physical distance of a robot can increaseperceived autonomy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA World with Robots
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Conference on Robot Ethics: ICRE 2015
EditorsM.I.A. Ferreira, J.S. Sequeira, M.O. Tokhi, E.E. Kadar, G.S. Virk
Number of pages15
EditionPart 1
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-46667-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-46665-1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventInternational Conference on Robot Ethics : ICRE 2015 - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 23 Oct 201524 Oct 2015

Publication series

NameIntelligent Systems, Control and Automation: Science and Engineering
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISSN (Print)2213-8996
ISSN (Electronic)2213-8994


ConferenceInternational Conference on Robot Ethics


  • Autonomy
  • Robots
  • Intelligent agents
  • Intelligent systems
  • Robot design
  • User expectations
  • Human-robot interaction
  • Perceived autonomy

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