Are preferences useful for better assistance?: A physically assistive robotics user study

Journal Article (2021)


ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction







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Assistive Robots have an inherent need of adapting to the user they are assisting. This is crucial for the correct development of the task, user safety, and comfort. However, adaptation can be performed in several manners. We believe user preferences are key to this adaptation. In this paper, we evaluate the use of preferences for Physically Assistive Robotics tasks in a Human-Robot Interaction user evaluation. Three assistive tasks have been implemented consisting of assisted feeding, shoe-fitting, and jacket dressing, where the robot performs each task in a different manner based on user preferences. We assess the ability of the users to determine which execution of the task used their chosen preferences (if any). The obtained results show that most of the users were able to successfully guess the cases where their preferences were used even when they had not seen the task before. We also observe that their satisfaction with the task increases when the chosen preferences are employed. Finally, we also analyze the user’s opinions regarding assistive tasks and preferences, showing promising expectations as to the benefits of adapting the robot behavior to the user through preferences.


intelligent robots, learning (artificial intelligence), service robots, social aspects of automation.

Scientific reference

G. Canal, C. Torras and G. Alenyà. Are preferences useful for better assistance?: A physically assistive robotics user study. ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction, 10(4): 1-19, 2021.