• Iros 2019 Workshop - Monday, Nov. 4th


This workshop is built on interdisciplinary research in two ongoing projects: Responsible Ethical Learning with Robots(REELER) and Do Robots Dream of Knitting? (RDoK). These projects’ findings highlight how particular values unintentionally seep into design, with consequences for users and the context of use. The workshop emphasizes the potential for interdisciplinary collaborative learning across the social and technical sciences to enhance and broaden mindsets in robotic design.

This workshop asks What will people design when they have no restrictions? and Can design provocation help developers avoid implicit faulty thinking patterns?Invited experts will guide the activities, presenting their own approaches and results in a mixture of open talks and practical tutorials, which especially focus on design interventionsto challenge existing assumptionsin design.From our mutual participation in the workshop, we will produce a prototype reflection tool for ethics, values, gender & stereotypes (EVGS) awareness and human-centered design, that may also enhance the uptakeand acceptanceof robots.

While a well-defined vocabulary exists in robotics for assessing some values, like functionality and robustness, many developers find it difficult to discuss more implicit values and assumptions –and nearly impossible to address them in practice. This workshop aims to contribute a developing vocabulary for bridging the gap between theoretical discussions of EVGS and practical, everyday design by presenting research findings on how a focus ongender can improve robotic design in general. (Gender is just one of many factors, but may be the most encompassing one – and will here be used as an example of EVGS.) These issues will be explored though a playful approach of puzzle games and design challenges, interspersed with discussions and group exercises.



This full-day workshop has four sessions representing main aspects of an EVGS-awareness approach.

The first session will be an introductory session which presents a core finding of REELER: The need for translating ethics into practice. This will be exemplified in a presentation of an innovative serious puzzle game which uses empirical data on gendered/stereotyped design choices to explore potential design outcomes. Here, the participants will develop a practical vocabulary for discussing values in design.

The second session is structured as a small-group rapid hands-on design challenge that will address the main conference theme, Robots connecting people. Participants will collaborate to create a robot model utilizing diverse (and unusual) materials such as tissue, yarn, paperclips, wood, etc.The groups will present their prototypes to spark a walkthrough of some of the inherent gendered and stereotyped aspects that we find in design, and a reflection on how and why they played out in the participants’ own collaborative designs. The aim is to make implicit values visible. 

The third session will be a more intentional design challenge, building on the new EVGS perspectivesand employing a ‘model of affective means’ (MOAM) used in robot design. Structured around design dimensions like morphology and sound, the groups’ model-building will be more focused on human-centered design. These design tasks will form the basis for a new practical reflection toolto be disseminated following the conference, and further elaborated on in the REELER project.

The fourth session will be reserved for sketching out the foundations of a multi-disciplinary human-centered approach to robotics that assesses the design practices and values embodied by the artifacts created in sessions 2 and 3.It synthesizes insights from diverse fields of expertise represented in the workshop and aims to bridge the gap between complementary research fields.

All four sessions are led by experts from various disciplinary backgrounds, in acknowledgment of the collective nature of learning through enriching design practices.

Topics of interest

  • Human-centered design, ethics, values, gender, methods, tools, collaborative, interdisciplinary, stereotypes, human-centered, sustainability, responsibility, practice