21st International Conference on Speech and Computer


Vanessa Evers

Professor, University of Twente, Netherlands


The classic image in the psychology of Human-Robot Interaction is that of a person who is focused and eager to learn how to work with or control a robot. The job of the roboticist then is primarily to avoid mistakes in accuracy of detection, manipulation, navigation, decision making, planning and so on to optimize human robot collaboration.


In this talk I will argue that social norms embedded in people, robots and the context in which the robots are used make this approach obsolete. Specifically, I will address the following questions:

– How do people understand robot behaviors?

– What do we know about people and robots collaborating?

– Can a robot understand human social behaviors?

– How does knowledge about human social relationships necessitate a change in our thinking about how humans should be modeled?

– How can the design of robots and their behavior improve acceptance of robots in everyday environments such as our homes, airports, museums, schools, roads, and hospitals?

Through examples of practical deployment of robots, I will explore the fundamentally social relationship people have with autonomous robots and offer essential rules for effective human-robot collaboration.


Vanessa Evers is a full Professor of Human Media Interaction at the University of Twente. Her research focuses on the design and development of Socially Intelligent Agents. This concerns human interaction with autonomous agents such as robots or machine learning systems and cultural aspects of Human Computer Interaction. She is best known for her work on social robotics such as the FROG robot (fun robotic outdoor guide), SPENCER (The airport service robot) and DE-ENIGMA (robot for autism education) that can interpret human behavior automatically and respond to people in a socially acceptable way. She is very active organizing scientific conferences and as editor of academic journals, she is a speaker on AI and Robotics at international events such as the World Economic Forum and is a frequent contributor to the media in newspapers and tv-shows.