Course Project

The course project is your chance to gain hands on HRI research experience. I highly recommend that you complete this project in a group of 2 or 3. If you wish to complete your project individually, please email me to discuss further. This project must be focused on the interaction between physically embodied robots and 1 or more people. This page contains details on the project deliverables, due dates, as well as suggestions for possible projects (at the bottom of the page).

Project Deliverables & Due Dates

Due Date Time Due Project Deliverable
Mon, Oct 5 9:00am CST Pitch 1-3 Project Ideas
Mon, Oct 12 9:00am CST Draft Project Proposal
Tue-Fri, Oct 13-16 9:00am CST Refine Project Proposal
Mon, Oct 19 9:00am CST Finalized Project Proposal
Mon, Nov 2 9:00am CST Progress Report #1
Mon, Nov 16 9:00am CST Progress Report #2
Wed, Dec 2 & Fri, Dec 4 Project Presentations to Class
Fri, Dec 11 5:00pm CST Project Final Report

Submission of Project Deliverables

Please make a Google Drive folder for your project team that you share with me ( You'll turn in of all your project deliverables to this Google Drive folder.

Draft Project Proposal

The draft proposal should be 1-2 pages in length and describe 1) the research question you are investigating and any related hypotheses, 2) the methods you expect to use to answer your research question, and 3) how you plan to evaluate whether or not you've answered your research question. Please share your project proposal with me by putting it in your group's Google Drive folder (see "Submission of Project Deliverables" above).

Finalized Project Proposal

The finalized project proposal, in addition to what is contained in the draft proposal, should detail a detailed timeline with corresponding intermediate deliverables. Before submitting your final project proposal, please set up a meeting with me to discuss and refine your proposed project in the date range of Tue-Fri, Oct 13-16. Please either Slack or email me ( to setup a 30 minute meeting with me 1) during office hours or 2) another time when I'm free (please check out my busy/free calendar before suggesting meeting times).

Progress Reports

The progress report should contain:

Project Presentation

You will present the work that you've done in your course project on either December 2 or December 4. Since there are 4 project teams this year, 2 groups will present on December 2 and 2 groups will present on December 4. You should aim for your presentation to take 15 minutes, leaving 10 minutes for Q&A (I will plan to cut you off if you go beyond 16 minutes). All members of your team are expected to participate in the presentation. Your presentation should highlight the following:

Please upload your presentation slides to your team's Google drive folder.

Final Report

The project report should be written in the style of an academic conference paper (like the papers we've been reading for our class discussions), feel free to use the ACM templates for conferences. The report should have the following sections: abstract, introduction, background, methods, results, discussion, conclusion, and contributions. The abstract - conclusion sections should resemble the papers we have read and discussed in this course. The contributions section should detail the contributions of each team member, detailing which portions of the project were completed by each team member. The report should be approximately 6 pages long without references. Please both 1) send me an email of your final report and 2) upload a copy to your team's Google Drive folder.

Project Grading

The grading for the course project will be as follows:

Getting Started

Here are some ideas to get you thinking about what kind of project you would like to work on:

Simulated Robots & Chatbots

The most commonly used robot simulator is Gazebo, because simulated robots in Gazebo are controlled in the exact same way as their physical robot counterparts. Another simulator option is Webots.

I have never created a virtual agent / avatar, and I'm currently looking for tools to create a virtual robot using this method. I will post them here when I have updates.

I have a preference for you all exploring projects with a simulated or physical robot, however, I am open to projects using a dis-embodied chatbot.

Physical Robots

If you are interested (and it's possible given covid-19 restrictions) in using a physical robot as a part of your project, here are the robots and sensors available for you to use in my lab:

Although working with physical robots is appealing, please consider seriously this option. Getting set up with a development environment in order to program your robot takes a non-trivial amount of time. Additionally, I'm currently working on getting you access to Crerar if you would like to use a physical robot for your project, but I have not yet succeeded in doing so. Therefore, if you hope to use a physical robot in your project, please detail a backup plan in case you are not able to access the robot in Crerar or, due to covid-19 restrictions imposed during the quarter, you no longer have access to the robot in Crerar.

Another option to consider in the case that the robots in the lab can't be accessed (either because we can't get lab access, you can't physically access the lab, or you don't feel comfortable accessing the lab), is buying a cheaper (< $300-ish) robot (e.g., the Anki Vector) and mailing it to your residence. I (Sarah) would fully pay for the robot and you would be expected to return the robot to me (Sarah) and the robotics lab after the quarter.