Collection of Metaphors for Human-Robot Interaction
Paper in proceeding, 2021

The word "robot"frequently conjures unrealistic expectations of utilitarian perfection: tireless, efficient and flawless agents. However, real-world robots are far from perfect - they fail and make mistakes. Thus, roboticists should consider altering their current assumptions and cultivating new perspectives that account for a more complete range of robot roles, behaviors, and interactions. To encourage this, we explore the use of metaphors for generating novel ideas and reframing existing problems, eliciting new perspectives of human-robot interaction. Our work makes two contributions. We (1) surface current assumptions that accompany the term "robots,"and (2) present a collection of alternative perspectives of interaction with robots through metaphors. By identifying assumptions, we provide a comprehensible list of aspects to reconsider regarding robots' physicality, roles, and behaviors. Through metaphors, we propose new ways of examining how we can use, relate to, and co-exist with the robots that will share our future.


robot assumptions

human-robot interaction


design research


Patricia Alves-Oliveira

University of Washington

Maria Luce Lupetti

Delft University of Technology

Michal Luria

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)

Diana Löffler

University of Siegen

Mafalda Samuelsson-Gamboa

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Interaction Design (Chalmers)

Lea Albaugh

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)

Waki Kamino

Indiana University

Anastasia K. Ostrowski

MIT Media Laboratory

David Puljiz

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Pedro Reynolds-Cuéllar

MIT Media Laboratory

Marcus Scheunemann

University of Hertfordshire

Michael Suguitan

Cornell University

Dan Lockton

Eindhoven University of Technology

DIS 2021 - Proceedings of the 2021 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference: Nowhere and Everywhere


2021 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference: Nowhere and Everywhere, DIS 2021
Virtual, Online, USA,

Subject Categories

Media and Communication Technology

Interaction Technologies




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