Designing Robots in the Wild: In situ Prototype Evaluation for a Break Management Robot

Selma Sabanovic, Sarah Reeder, Bobak Kechavarzi


As robots move into everyday environments, we need to understand both the social and the technical constraints and affordances for human-robot interaction. We use in situ evaluation of partially functioning prototypes to inform the design of robotic technologies that fit their intended contexts of use and illustrate this method through a case study of iteratively designing a desktop robot for break management in a computerized office. After an initial exploratory study of the office as context of use, we used comparative semi-controlled evaluations of multiple design alternatives to explore how different robot characteristics, specifically how embodiment and social interactivity are perceived by users and affect their break taking. We found evaluating simple prototypes with varying levels of functionality, even when not robust or “complete,” provides opportunities for including users in the design process and for identifying emergent factors that impact robot use. Our case study provides insights into the challenges and best practices for performing iterative prototyping and in situ evaluations of robots, which can inform future development of contextually appropriate robotic technologies.


human-robot interaction, in situ evaluation, prototyping, social and assistive robots, design methods, socially situated robots

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