Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Planning, Design, and the Built Environment

Committee Chair/Advisor

Green, Keith E

Committee Member

Walker , Ian D

Committee Member

Brooks , Johnell O

Committee Member

Ellison , Michael S


Assistive robotics will become integral to the everyday lives of a human population that is increasingly mobile, older, urban-centric and networked. The overwhelming demands on healthcare delivery alone will compel the adoption of assistive robotics. How will we communicate with such robots, and how will they communicate with us? This research makes the case for a relatively 'artificial' mode of nonverbal human-robot communication that is non-disruptive, non-competitive, and non-invasive human-robot communication that we envision will be willingly invited into our private and working lives over time. This research proposes a non-verbal communication (NVC) platform be conveyed by familiar lights and sounds, and elaborated here are experiments with our NVC platform in a rehabilitation hospital. This NVC is embedded into the Assistive Robotic Table (ART), developed within our lab, that supports the well-being of an expanding population of older adults and those with limited mobility. The broader aim of this research is to afford people robot-assistants that exist and interact with them in the recesses, rather than in the foreground, of their intimate and social lives.
With support from our larger research team, I designed and evaluated several alternative modes of nonverbal robot communication with the objective of establishing a nonverbal, human-robot communication loop that evolves with users and can be modified by users. The study was conducted with 10-13 clinicians -- doctors and occupational, physical, and speech therapists -- at a local rehabilitation hospital through three iterative design and evaluation phases and a final usability study session. For our test case at a rehabilitation hospital, medical staff iteratively refined our NVC platform, stated a willingness to use our platform, and declared NVC as a desirable research path. In addition, these clinicians provided the requirements for human-robot interaction (HRI) in clinical settings, suggesting great promise for our mode of human-robot communication for this and other applications and environments involving intimate HRI.

Included in

Architecture Commons



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