Robot Development Led by Expert Users

How can we let expert users, whether that's e.g. healthcare practitioners, teachers, or even just users themselves, lead the design and development of robots, supporting them in the design and automation of robots which leverage their tacit expertise and are tailored to their needs?

Myself and my team use participatory design methods to work with diverse user groups in identifying and refining HRI applications and design. We compliment this with work on human-in-the-loop and interactive machine learning approaches which support continued user participation into the robot automation stage, aiming for socially intelligent robots taught in-situ with locally collected data in place of `off-the-shelf' AI models or training via big data and crowdsourcing.

During my PhD, this took the form of focus groups and interviews with therapists through to eventual real-world, longitudinal deployment of a robot fitness coach designed and taught, in-situ, by a university fitness instructor. The video below presents a short explainer, or you can hear more from me, the fitness instructor and a couple of our participants in this short BBC Click feature.

More recently, I'm leading work exploring whether this approach can be used to design robots for young people with young people, including how this might support development of novel robot designs whilst also educating young people about e.g. mechanisms of machine learning and technology ethics, as well as work on social robots within community co-designed preventative healthcare.


Selected Publications

Winkle, Katie, Emmanuel Senft, and Séverin Lemaignan. "LEADOR: A Method for End-To-End Participatory Design of Autonomous Social Robots." Frontiers in Robotics and AI 8 (2021). Paper.

Winkle, Katie, et al. "In-situ learning from a domain expert for real world socially assistive robot deployment." Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems (2020). Paper; Video Presentation

Winkle, Katie, et al. "Mutual shaping in the design of socially assistive robots: A case study on social robots for therapy." International Journal of Social Robotics 12.4 (2020): 847-866. Paper.

Gillet, Sarah, et al. "Ice-Breakers, Turn-Takers and Fun-Makers: Exploring Robots for Groups with Teenagers." 2022 31st IEEE International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN). IEEE, 2022. Paper.