Studying robots outside the lab: HRI as ethnography

Lasse Blond

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


As more and more robots enter our social world, there is a strong need for further field studies of humanrobot interaction. Based on a two-year ethnographic study of the implementation of a South Korean socially assistive robot in Danish elderly care, this paper argues that empirical and ethnographic studies will enhance the understanding of the adaptation of robots in real-life settings. Furthermore, the paper emphasizes how users and the context of use matters to this adaptation, as it is shown that roboticists are unable to control how their designs are implemented and how the sociality of social robots is inscribed by its users in practice. This paper can be seen as a contribution to long-term studies of HRI. It presents the challenges of robot adaptation in practice and discusses the limitations of the present conceptual understanding of human-robot relations. The ethnographic data presented herein encourage a move away from static and linear descriptions of the implementation process toward more contextual and relational accounts of HRI.
Translated title of the contributionUdforskning af robotter uden for laboratoriet: HRI som etnografi
Original languageEnglish
JournalPaladyn: Journal of Behavioral Robotics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)117-127
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2019
EventHRI'18 : The 13th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction - McCormick Place , Chicago, United States
Duration: 5 Mar 20188 Mar 2018
Conference number: 13


LocationMcCormick Place
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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