What makes a robot social? A review of social robotics from science fiction to a home or hospital near you

Anna Henschel, Guy Laban, Emily S. Cross*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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    Purpose of Review
    We provide an outlook on the definitions, laboratory research, and applications of social robots, with an aim to understand what makes a robot social—in the eyes of science and the general public.

    Recent Findings
    Social robots demonstrate their potential when deployed within contexts appropriate to their form and functions. Some examples include companions for the elderly and cognitively impaired individuals, robots within educational settings, and as tools to support cognitive and behavioural change interventions.

    Science fiction has inspired us to conceive of a future with autonomous robots helping with every aspect of our daily lives, although the robots we are familiar with through film and literature remain a vision of the distant future. While there are still miles to go before robots become a regular feature within our social spaces, rapid progress in social robotics research, aided by the social sciences, is helping to move us closer to this reality.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9–19
    Number of pages11
    JournalCurrent Robotics Reports
    Issue number1
    Early online date4 Feb 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • social robots
    • human-robot interaction
    • socially assistive robots
    • cognitive neuroscience
    • social cognition


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