Student Design Competition

Important Dates

  • December 9th, 2022 (23:59 AoE): Submission Deadline
  • January 10th, 2023: Notification of Acceptance
  • January 16th, 2023: Camera-ready Papers Due

The Design Challenge and Context

The theme for this year’s Student Design Competition is “Affordable robots“. Student teams are asked to create and describe a scenario with robots/agents that are affordable and have a real-life utility in society. More specifically, we are looking for affordable, impactful, scalable, and reliable use-cases with real-world application potential. Since the theme of this year’s conference is “HRI for all”, we also recommend that students think about inclusion and diversity in HRI in terms of geographical inclusion (both for the developed and developing world), gender inclusion, ethnic inclusion, disability, equity, etc. related to this theme.

Submissions could be abstract ideas presented in video or illustration/graphics, and do not need to be a fully developed prototype. We strongly encourage participants to consider physically embodied robots for this theme. When describing your scenario, we recommend that you keep the following three points in mind, but you are free to write as you wish.

PCS Submission Site

  • Embodiment through gadgets: affordable gadgets that symbolize “HRI for all” in society should appear in the scenario.
  • A concrete, real-world utility point of view: The impact of the robot/agent should be examined from a social and/or-economic point of view.
  • The process of interaction/tasks with intended users and benefits to them should be depicted in the scenario.

In addition, the following questions may help you describe your scenario.

  • How does your system have an affordable use-case in society?
  • What are the problems/challenges that this technology could bring?
  • Could there be people who would find access to this technology difficult?
  • How does your idea support inclusion in society?

In addition, please provide evidence of the kind of research and development that could make your proposed technology a reality. The evidence does not have to be entirely realistic, but it should at least show the budding ideas in a logical manner.

Mandatory submission:

  • A pdf document including the description of your scenario (more details below), and one picture for explaining the system


  • Any kind of format (manga, graphic novels, picture arts, movies, animations, and video games) are allowed.


  • CardBot robot used in the context ‘Learning to be a Better Learner With a Virtual Tutor And a Robot Peer’:
  • Examples of scenario plot: Eri Sasayama and Dohjin Miyamoto, Homo mangapiens, or the future that could be created by a combination of neuroscience, HAI and manga research, HAI 2019 workshop Envision of Acceptable Human Agent Interaction based on Science Fiction,

How to create your robot?

This year, it is not mandatory to submit a physically embodied working robot/agent form. But it might be helpful to make your submission as realistic as possible so reviewers can understand your approach. We encourage participants to focus on the actual process of creating a robot, including the utility of the robot; what the ideas and principles are behind it; how the robot is built, its approximate price, how it feels (textures, materials, shape, colours, sounds…), its societal benefits, how it addresses inclusion, how it interacts with its users, etc.

Participants who build physical robots might use recycled materials (cardboard boxes, straws, off-the-shelf electronics), or source small products from their local stores (e.g., IKEA or MUJI), hacking toys, or using everyday objects from their homes or labs. Then actuating them using purchased or homemade hardware and software (perhaps using open-source tools) to add movement, visual indicators, or sound, so the robot can express itself and/or communicate its use or purpose. Don’t feel limited by any of these suggestions: be creative! The competition focuses less on demonstrations of technical proficiency and more on the design process of ideas that inspire, surprise, and delight.

How to take part in SDC 2023?

Form a team (5 people max., but you can also participate as an individual) and prepare the initial submission to be submitted via the HRI website before December 9, 2022. Creating and submitting an initial submission is how student teams enter the competition and indicate that they are working on a project. Each initial submission should be a 1–4 page PDF document, that includes the following information:

  • Project title and authors (names, school/university, and email addresses).
  • An abstract of 100 words or less .
  • A brief description of the design or application scenario: who will interact with the robot? Where? What kind of activities/tasks will the robot and humans do together? The description can be technical and/or behavioural. Feel free to add pictures and drawings to explain your idea.

A brief description of your design process: How did you generate ideas? Challenge them? Revisit them? You can include the different robot ideas/concepts you have explored (and not just the final one). You can do that by adding pictures of your ideas, making videos (optional), including drawings, 3D models, post-its, etc.

Jury and Awards

The HRI community is very diverse, including researchers and practitioners from computer science and engineering, social science, art and design, and a goal of the competition is to recognize outstanding contributions from any of these disciplines.

We expect that there will be awards along several categories that could include physically embodied agents and digital agents..

The awards/prizes will be announced in the coming days. Below items will be evaluated during jury:

  1. Scenario is described as affordable and “cost-effective”.
  2. Appropriateness for “HRI for all”, inclusive use-case.
  3. Innovation in the design process and creativity
Even though we strongly encourage physically embodied agents for this theme, for entries with purely digital agents, the last two points (2 and 3) would be given a stronger emphasis.

Competition Guidelines


Teams (or individuals) should design, build, and document their projects during the time frame prior to the HRI 2023 Conference. We strongly encourage to photograph and video record their design and development process of the robot, to include during final video/demo presentations. We highly recommend students to present their physical designs at the conference if they can be brought along.


We invite students from all stages of their university careers, from undergraduate to postgraduate, and high school students from any discipline. While not required, we encourage multidisciplinary, even international, team membership.

Team Size

Please form teams of no more than 5 members. If your team has reason to exceed this number, please check with the SDC Chairs at first. Individual applications are also welcome.


Registration for the competition itself is free, although at least 1 member of each team must register for, and attend, the HRI 2023 conference. Individual participations will need to register for the conference.


There is no limit to the number of entries per university, school, or organization. We encourage each student to focus on a single team entry, although students are permitted to join multiple teams.


We hope to have a small number of conference registration scholarships to participating teams, and possible travel support. We will keep this website updated with additional information should funding become available.

Submission and Presentations

PCS Submission Site

Initial submissions: Participants should prepare an initial submission and submit it via the “PCS” website (deadline: 9th December 2022). Creating and submitting an initial submission is how student teams enter the competition and indicate that they are working on a project. Please follow the same instructions for paper formatting as camera ready below.

Camera-ready submissions (to be confirmed): Teams whose submissions are accepted should submit 1-4 pages camera-ready version, updated to reflect the team’s progress to that date, for inclusion in the ACM digital library and IEEE Xplore. The camera-ready version should follow the same template. Please see the current website for links to templates.

Presentation format (to be confirmed): During the conference, the SDC session will be a hybrid (in-person and remote) exhibition of the competition will include:

  • Videos of the teams showing their process of making/designing their robot/agent.
  • Teams are encouraged to showcase and demo their robot/agent live during the session as the most informative and entertaining representation of their work. This will provide opportunities for the audience to better understand how their robot/agent should be used and was envisioned to interact with people.

There will be interaction sessions during the SDC in-person at the venue and possibly on zoom to engage in discussions about the process of making their robot. This will serve to share experience with the conference audience.

Closer to the conference, we will ask teams to submit your presentation material: a video showcasing your project and design process, and, optionally, an additional interactive presentation of the robot that they created. Additional details on these submissions will be provided to teams after acceptance of their project. However, teams are reminded to document and (video-)record their design process from the very start!

Guidelines and Requirements for Video Submission


  • Videos should explain the content using voice overs, and all audio must be captioned to be inclusive to deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers.
  • Video content should be self-contained and self-explanatory. There will be no live narration or in-person introduction when videos are presented in the session.
  • Video content should not contain advertisements or be heavily promotional in nature.


  • Submission files that are finalized need to be ready to be played as-is, without revision, at the conference. No anonymization is required.
  • Videos should not exceed 3 minutes in length. Titles and credits are recommended to last less than 3 seconds each.
  • The submitted video files cannot exceed 70MB in size.
  • Please use a horizontal resolution of at least 640 pixels. We recommend that you use the maximum resolution permitted within the file size restrictions (please do not exceed 2048 x 1080).
  • Our recommended video format is the .MP4 container format using the H264 codec (main or high profile) for the video track and the AAC codec for audio tracks. Submissions in .AVI, .MOV, or .MKV containers (possibly using other codecs) will also be considered.
  • Authors should verify that their submission is viewable using a recent version of the VLC media player (cross-platform). Ideally, the submitted file will play on computers with recent Linux, OSX, or Windows operating systems without requiring third-party codecs to be installed.
  • Videos should have the aspect ratio correctly set (i.e., playing them should not require user interaction to avoid stretching).


  • Check that audio and video tracks play synchronously if relevant for the submission.
  • Start the video filename with the lead author’s last name.
  • Do not use Digital Rights Management (DRM) on your video file submission.

ACM requires video authors to sign a release granting permission to use the video content for the HRI conference. The copyright of the video remains with the author. Video authors are responsible for obtaining permission for any third-party copyrighted material (music, video, images, etc.) in the video. Such content should not be included unless permission has been obtained prior to submission.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are “Robots”?

We want to encourage a broad interpretation of what an interactive robot might be to each team. They could be custom-built objects or components, repurposed products or furnishings, hacked toys or appliances, or whatever teams have on-hand. We recommend letting the context, people, and interaction guide the design.

Can teams use any hardware or software on their projects?

Teams may use any physical platform for their interactive robots, and should choose based on their chosen interaction context, the people involved, and the activities in which their objects will engage. To control their robots, teams may use any software platform, open or closed source, or even no software if that suits their design.

Is There Any Sponsorship for Expenses to Develop Interactive Everyday Object, or to Attend the HRI Conference?

We are trying to arrange a way to cover (or to offset) teams’ development expenses, and/or attendance expenses, but it is still not certain. We will post updates here as we learn more.

Can Any Student be a Member of More than One Team?

Students may join more than one team, and teams should be constituted of maximum 5 persons. Individual submissions are also welcome.

Is There a Social Platform or Service for Finding Teammates?

We do not have a platform set up to help teams form, although you’re welcome to take the initiative. Let us know, and we will post details on the website. If we receive enough interest from individuals or small teams, we may collect and send your email addresses to each other.

Can Student Members Join or Leave Teams after Submitting a Proposal?

Individual members may be added or removed from teams up until two weeks prior to the conference. To make such changes, please email the Chairs at as soon as possible.

Can Someone who isn’t a Student Participate? The HRI 2023 Student Design Competition is only open to students, although students at any university level (bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD) may participate, as may high school students.

Can Other People, or Advisors, Help with the Competition Project?

The HRI 2023 Student Design Competition is only open to students, although students at any university level (bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD) and high school students may participate.

Can a Team Withdraw After Submitting a Proposal?

Teams are able to withdraw. In this case, please notify the Student Design Competition Chairs at at least two weeks prior to the conference. For team members seeking reimbursement for conference registration fees, please contact the Finance Chairs at

Student Design Competition Chairs

Amol Deshmukh (University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK)

Jauwairia Nasir (EPFL, Switzerland)