A survey on the design space of end-user-oriented languages for specifying robotic missions
Journal article, 2021

Mobile robots are becoming increasingly important in society. Fulfilling complex missions in different contexts and environments,
robots are promising instruments to support our everyday live. As such, the task of defining the robot’s mission
is moving from professional developers and roboticists to the end-users. However, with the current state-of-the-art, defining
missions is non-trivial and typically requires dedicated programming skills. Since end-users usually lack such skills, many
commercial robots are nowadays equipped with environments and domain-specific languages tailored for end-users. As such,
the software support for defining missions is becoming an increasingly relevant criterion when buying or choosing robots.
Improving these environments and languages for specifying missions toward simplicity and flexibility is crucial. To this end,
we need to improve our empirical understanding of the current state-of-the-art of such languages and their environments. In
this paper, we contribute in this direction. We present a survey of 30 mission specification environments for mobile robots that
come with a visual and end-user-oriented language. We explore the design space of these languages and their environments,
identify their concepts, and organize them as features in a feature model. We believe that our results are valuable to practitioners
and researchers designing the next generation of mission specification languages in the vibrant domain of mobile

Specification environments

Visual languages

Empirical study

Robotic missions

Language concepts


Dragule Swaib

Makerere University

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers)

Thorsten Berger

University of Gothenburg

Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Claudio Menghi

University of Luxembourg

Patrizio Pelliccione

University of L'Aquila

University of Gothenburg

Software and Systems Modeling

1619-1366 (ISSN) 1619-1374 (eISSN)

Vol. 20 4 1123-1158

Areas of Advance

Information and Communication Technology

Subject Categories

Human Computer Interaction


Computer Science



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