Important dates, full papers

8th December, 2023 (AOE): initial submission (draft paper + video) due
12th January, 2024: acceptance notifications
17th January, 2024: camera ready paper + video presentations due
11th-14th March 2024: The HRI 2024 conference, during which video submissions will be showcased, award winners will be announced and we hope to arrange an SDC mingle.

* Student Design Challenge Networking Session: Tuesday 3/12, 6:30 to 8:30 pm, at ATLAS lobby.

Student Design Challenge

We invite submissions to the 2024 HRI student design challenge! The SDC is designed to provide university student teams (of any level/discipline) with an opportunity to design and develop a human-robot interaction. The challenge requires student teams to submit a short written paper (1-4 pages inc. references) and video presentation/demonstration detailing their work. A number of submissions will be invited for showcase at the main HRI conference – these will be included in the conference companion proceedings (i.e. listed with referenable DOI in the ACM digital library/IEEE Xplore).

The two main goals of the SDC are as follows:

  • To provide graduate and undergraduate students with an enjoyable, hands-on introduction to the interdisciplinary world of HRI through a team-based design project
  • To engage and convene students of diverse backgrounds working in technical, cultural, design, humanist or social science disciplines 

We also suggest that the SDC might make for an excellent group project for university teachers to include in courses relating to HRI, design, robotics and mechatronics etc. 


The Design Challenge and Context

Building on the overall conference theme of HRI in the real world, we encourage SDC submissions which explore making the everyday interactive. Whether teams decide to re-imagine existing, everyday human-machine interactions (what does HRI for a coffee machine look like?) or develop novel, interactive robot artifacts to be deployed in the office, the schoolroom, the city park etc., the aim is to generate affectively compelling interactions that have potential to inspire, surprise, and delight.   

Robots: There are no requirements for what hardware (including pre-built robot platforms) you may or may not use. For DIY builds, we suggest working with recycled materials (cardboard, straws, off-the-shelf electronics) or small products from stores like IKEA or MUJI, hacking toys, or using everyday objects found in the home or the lab. You might consider actuation via 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 usages or purpose. 

For those worried about a lack of “technical skills,” we hope this might be a fun excuse to play with hardware, especially if you can find yourself some teammates who have a bit of experience with robotics/coding. It is totally fine for your robot to be lo-fi and/or “puppeted”. We are not looking for full fidelity prototypes nor any particular level of autonomy. We encourage you to play to your team strengths and/or engage with design and development work you find most interesting. 

It’s also fine to work with off-the-shelf HRI research platforms like robot arms, mobile platforms or even social robots if these are accessible to you. In these cases, we’ll definitely want to understand how you’re (re-)imagining (or even disrupting) everyday interactions with those platforms. 

Design: Here are some starting questions we suggest using to help kick off your design process. We encourage you to identify and focus on a particular interaction context, creating scenarios that illustrate how your robots fit within the (everyday!) lives of their human users/interaction partners.

  • In what setting(s) will the robot exist? Choose a specific, discrete, real world setting that is familiar to your team. Perhaps consider the home, office, city park, commuter train, car, etc. 
  • Who are the stakeholders who will live, work, travel, or relax in that context?
  • What activities do people engage in within those settings? For example, commuting, working, studying, exercising, sightseeing, or having a meal.
  • Are you (re-)imagining how the robot will support these activities, and/or instead focusing on how it will provide additional, standalone interactions and experiences? 
  • What are some potential impacts of the robot along social, cultural, surveillant or other ends? How might those impacts be anticipated and / or managed? 

For inspiration you might check out:

  • “Toaster Bot” from last year’s student design challenge – a great example of making the everyday interactive
  • The cardboard based robot used in this HRI research on robot peers, as an example of DIY robot-building and programming
  • “ConeBot” another take on everyday interactions, this time representing an interactive robot object that exists to do its own thing rather than supporting anything “functional” or “useful”  
  • Dancing with Mikobot as an example of a prismatic, multi-faceted movement-based interaction (dance!) in HRI 

Challenge Showcase, Mingle and Jury Awards: Video presentations/demonstrations from accepted teams will be showcased during the main conference. Additionally, we hope teams that build their own interactive robot artifact will consider bringing it to show at the conference. Our aim is to arrange an SDC event where teams can discuss their work, get to know each other and meet HRI innovators from academia and industry. A jury of such innovators and mentors will be invited to identify award-worthy challenge submissions deserving of special recognition.

Challenge Guidelines

Procedure: Teams should design, build and document their projects ahead of the submission deadline (it’s fine for initial submissions to describe work in progress, but work should be finished in time for the camera ready deadline of January 19th). We encourage teams to photograph and/or video record their design and development process for possible inclusion within their submissions. We strongly encourage teams who build a prototype/demonstrator to bring them along for showcasing at the conference. 

Participants: 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 chairs first. If you really don’t have the ability to put together a team but still want to participate, please contact the chairs who will try to match you up to other interested individuals. 

Registration: At least one member of each team must register for and attend the main HRI 2024 conference. More details on e.g. remote participation options to be published in-line with the main conference.  

Teams and Schools: There is no limit to the number of entries per university, school, or organization. However, to foster participant diversity, a maximum of one team per school will be invited to showcase their work at the conference. We encourage each student to focus on a single team entry, although students are permitted to join multiple teams.

Expenses, Subsidies and Scholarships: We are working to identify ways in which we can provide financial support to teams in the form of e.g. design materials and/or travel or conference registration. We will update information here should any such support become available. Otherwise we encourage students to check for student volunteer opportunities associated with the main conference, and/or to consider applying to the HRI Pioneers workshop which may provide attendees with financial support to attend.

Written Submissions, Video Showcase

Initial Submissions: Initial submissions should include a short paper abstract and draft video presentation. The written submission should be a 1-4 page abstract (using the same template as main conference full paper submissions) including, as a minimum:

  • Project title and authors (names, affiliations, and email addresses).
  • An abstract of 100 words or fewer.
  • A brief description of the design context, the people involved, and the activities in which they, and the interactive robotic object, will engage. The description can be technical and/or behavioral.
  • One or more representative images of the interactive robotic object, which can include hand-drawn sketches, digital renderings, CAD models, and/or photographs.

The draft video presentation should be no more than three minutes and can be very rough – no need to spend time editing and polishing at this stage. We’re just looking for something that gives us an idea of who you are (as a team) and what your work is about/what your robot interaction might look like (our own experience with deadlines also leads us to think having a draft video prepared at the initial submission stage will make post-Christmas preparation of a potential camera ready version much less daunting…). 

A link to the submission portal will be added here once it goes live.

Camera-Ready Submissions:  Teams whose submissions are accepted will be asked to submit a final, 1-4 pages camera-ready version of their written abstract for inclusion in the ACM digital library and IEEE Xplore. Teams will also be asked to upload a video showcasing their robot artifacts/interactions for archive with their paper and for showcase at the main conference (exact video requirements to be published nearer the time).

Video Showcase: Camera ready videos submitted by accepted teams will be showcased at the main conference. The detailed specification for these videos will be published on the website closer to the conference date. 

In-Person Events at the Conference: We aim to plan an SDC mingle in which teams can further showcase their work, get to know each other and meet some HRI luminaries from academia and industry. We hope teams who build a portable prototype will consider bringing it along to showcase. 

Contact Us: 

You can reach SDC chairs Katie, Sydney and Ruhan by emailing