Photo of Prof. Dr. Kerstin Dautenhahn

Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn, Canada 150 Research Chair in Intelligent Robotics

This page was updated on 5th October 2018. It is a personal document and does only reflect my own opinions.

In August 2018 I moved to Canada as Professor in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. I was awarded the Canada 150 Research Chair in Intelligent Robotics and I am now establishing the Social and Intelligent Robotics Research Laboratory. In Waterloo, I am affiliated with the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as Systems Design Engineering. I am currently still partially affiliated with University of Hertfordshire in the UK as Professor of Artificial Intelligence in the Department of Computer Science at University of Hertfordshire where from 2000 to 2018 I coordinated the Adaptive Systems Research Group. Main areas of my research are Human-Robot Interaction, Social Robotics, Socially Intelligent Agents and Artificial Life, you can find out more about it on this homepage. I am former member of the Department of Biological Cybernetics at University of Bielefeld, Germany, 1990-1993, and AI-Lab at GMD (now Fraunhofer), Sankt Augustin, Germany, 1993-1996, and VUB Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Brussels, Belgium, until end of 1996. From January 1997 to April 2000 Lecturer, Department of Cybernetics at University of Reading, United Kingdom. In April 2000 I joined the Department of Computer Science (now School of Computer Science) at University of Hertfordshire as Principal Lecturer. Later I got promoted to Reader (2001) and then in 2003 to full Professor. I am Editor in Chief (jointly with Prof. Angelo Cangelosi - University of Plymouth) of the Journal Interaction Studies- Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems published by John Benjamins Publishing Company, Editorial Board Member of Adaptive Behavior, Sage Publications, Associate Editor of the International Journal of Social Robotics, published by Springer, and Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems (previously IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development). I am an Editor of the book series Advances in Interaction Studies, published by John Benjamins Publishing Company. I am on the Advisory Board of the journal AI and Society (Springer). I am a Fellow of IEEE, a member of ACM, and a Lifelong Fellow of AISB. I am a member of the Executive Board of the International Foundation for Responsible Robotics. I am also a member of the Steering Group of the Verification and Validation of Autonomous Systems EPSRC-funded Network, coordinated by Prof. Michael Fisher, Liverpool.


In 2016 I was nominated for the Wired Audi Innovation Awards in the category Innovation in AI.

Other activities:

I wrote a chapter on Human-Robot Interaction. In: Soegaard, Mads and Dam, Rikke Friis (eds.). "The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.". Aarhus, Denmark: The Interaction Design Foundation.

See the video that has been produced as part of the University of Hertfordshire Fundraising Campaign for KASPAR - our goal is to raise enough money for a 5-year reearch project into the effectiveness of the robot as a therapeutic tool for children with autism.

See the following videos about our robot companion research in LIREC: The Robot House Showcase (2012), and more details on the Sunflower robot (2011). Sunflower has been designed by Dr. Kheng Lee Koay based on our experience with the first integrated prototype (2010). Within LIREC Dr. Michael L. Walters, in collaboration with artists Alex May and Anna Dumitriu, developed CHARLY.

I am book series editor (jointly with Prof. Angelo Cangelosi - University of Plymouth) of a new book series Advances in Interaction Studies, published by John Benjamins Publishing Company - the book series accompanies the Journal Interaction Studies: Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems, John Benjamins Publishing Company. Editors-in-Chief: Kerstin Dautenhahn and Angelo Cangelosi.

Recent activities in organisation of scientific events:

Co-coordinator of Topic Group "Natural Interaction with Social Robots", part of the euRobotics public-private partnership (with Mohamed Chetouani and Vanessa Evers who is Coordinator).

I am co-organiser and contact person for workshop Empathic Human-Robot Interaction: A Joint Industry Academia Outlook for the Future at the European Robotics Forum 2017, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, 24th March 2017, co-organisers are Teena Chakkalayil Hassan (Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, Germany), Ana Paiva (Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal), Laurence Devillers (University Paris-Sorbonne IV, France).

I organised the AISB 2009 Symposium on New Frontiers in Human-Robot Interaction, part of the AISB 2009 convention, 8-9 April 2009, Edinburgh, Scotland. I also organised the Second International Symposium on New Frontiers in Human-Robot Interaction, a two-day symposium at AISB 2010, 31 March - 1 April 2010, De Montfort University, Leicester, United Kingdom. I co-organised the Third International Symposium on New Frontiers in Human-Robot Interaction, part of the AISB-2014, 3-4 April 2014, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK (symposium co-chair: Dr. Maha Salem). In 2015 the 4th International Symposium was held at University of Kent in Canterbury, 20-22 April 2015. I was one of the co-organisers, together with Dr. Maha Salem, Dr. Astrid Weiss and Dr. Paul Baxter. We will also organise the 2016 symposium as part of the AISB 2016 convention, from 4-6 April 2016 in Sheffield.

In 2008 I was co-organizer (with Gert Jan Gelderblom and Holly Yanco) of Robotic Helpers: User Interaction, Interfaces and Companions in Assistive and Therapy Robotics, a full-day workshop associated to HRI'08. The workshop was held on 12 March 2008, electronic versions of the proceedings papers are available here.

I was co- general chair (with Terry Fong) of HRI'08, 3rd ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, 12-15 March 2008, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The conference attracted up to 250 people and was the largest HRI conference to date in terms of paper submissions and conference attendees.

I was general chair of the 2006 IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN 2006), 6-8 September 2006, de Havilland Campus, Hatfield, UK. The theme of Ro-man 2006 was Getting to Know Socially Intelligent Robots. The symposium attracted 200 participants and presented state-of-the-art in human-robot interaction research.

Proceedings of the 10 symposia that ran as part of the AISB 2005 Convention, 12-15 April 2005 at University of Hertfordshire are available online. I was general chair of the convention with the theme Social Intelligence and Interaction in Animals, Robots, and Agents. The convention attracted 300 participants.

Books that I edited:

Within the book series Advanced in Interaction Studies I edited a book on "New Frontiers in Human-Robot Interaction", co-edited by Dr. Joe Saunders. See the flyer.

Imitation and Social Learning in Robots, Humans and Animals: Behavioural, Social and Communicative Dimensions by Chrystopher L. Nehaniv and Kerstin Dautenhahn (Eds.), March 2007

Imitation in Animals and Artifacts, Cambridge, Mass., USA: MIT Press, 2002, editors Kerstin Dautenhahn and Chrystopher L. Nehaniv. See the table of contents.

Socially Intelligent Agents - Creating relationships with computers and robots, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002, edited by Kerstin Dautenhahn, Alan Bond, Lola Cañamero, Bruce Edmonds. See the description of content (with ordering information) and table of contents (pdf document).

Human Cognition and Social Agent Technology, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2000, edited by Kerstin Dautenhahn. See the description and table of contents.

You can find out on this page about:

My Research
PhD projects I am involved in. Short CV. Teaching. News

Current Projects: KASPAR project. EPSRC project Trustworthy Robotic Assistants. Horizon2020 Marie Curie ITN SECURE (Safety Enables Cooperation in Uncertain Robotic Environments). US AFOSR: Bringing together psychological (top-down) and biological (bottom-up) processes for enhancing human-robot interaction (HRI-BioPsy). Horizon2020 Babyrobot.

Long-term project: AURORA - Robots and Autism.

We designed an interactive, expressive robot KASPAR, described in this article. KASPAR fundraising campaign video.

See a Podcast on Robotics and AI on the subject of using robots for therapy and education of children with autism.

An article about my work on robot home companions in Computer Science For Fun (CS4Fn)

An interview with me on human-robot relationships as part of the Heart project.

My publications, theoretical and experimental work

Some of my academic activities in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Interdisciplinary journal Interaction Studies: Social Behaviour and Communication in Biological and Artificial Systems

Contact Details

Research I did as a postdoc:
The Huegellandschaft scenario, Photos and videos of my work at GMD 1993-1996, work on social robots 1996-1998: Photos of communicating robots . Outdated websites: Links & Literature (last updated May 2000), The Socially Intelligent Agents Webpage (last updated 17 Dec 2003)

Some media coverage of my research.


My Research:

I am currently involved in the following European projects, usually as PI, if not otherwise specified.

Other research has also been funded by EPSRC, the Nuffield Foundation, the University of Reading Research Endowment Trust Fund, and the University of Hertfordshire.

My research interest in socially intelligent agents (and mechanisms like social learning/imitation, story-telling, interactive emergence, robot-human interaction, mindreading) led to the project AURORA (Autonomous robotic platform as a remedial tool for children with autism) which aims to 1) develop a novel human-robot interface, and 2) make a contribution to use mobile robots as rehabilitation and teaching devices. 

My research goals are the investigation of social intelligence and individual interactions in groups of autonomous agents, including humans and other animals, software agents and robots. This includes different kind of "social interactions" and cooperation, including movements, communication, the role of "internal states" and memory (in particular "story-telling" as a central element of human remembering and dialogue), and embodiment for intelligent behaviour, and the way other agents interpret the behaviour and "intentions" of human-made artifacts.  

My research background and interests are very interdisciplinary and I hope that I can merge different kinds of knowledge and methodologies in order to produce interesting artifacts. They will never be as complex and beautiful as natural living systems, but they should behave in a way which makes them useful and acceptable for humans, acceptable for me. These systems will not be copies of humans or animals, they will always be different, because of the different organization of the material their bodies consist of. But they should behave in a way which is compatible to humans, I want them to be integrated in human society, a "multi-species" society. I am thinking hard about how to implement the phenomenological dimension of social intelligence and understanding in concrete computer programs and robot designs. Body and mind emerged from the same kind of matter, they are two aspects of the same complex organization of material. That's my conception of embodiment. And social understanding and communication is rooted in the "empathic" re-experiencing occurring between such systems. That's in short my "philosophy of thinking" which I'm describing in more detail in my papers. But it's not sufficient to think out concepts, these systems have to be built! That's what keeps me busy. 

My current and future robotic interests also include explicit communication ("language" in terms of communicative signals, grounded in embodied agents and social interactions), studies on "body language" (non-verbal communication between agents, focusing on synchronization and coordination of movements for communicative purposes), social learning mechanisms supporting the emergence of "individuality" and "autobiographic agents". All this will be centered around the basic artificial life idea on studying the development and emergence (yes, I dare to use this term) of (social) complexity involving artificial matter and agents. 

With respect to robot-human interaction I think in terms of building robots as "friendly" partners, showing interesting behaviours and/or dynamic types of movement: robots as toys to entertain people and help children with special needs to relate to the environment, see project AURORA, or service robots as helpful assistants and companions in home scenarios.

A vision from 1996 on Robot-human relationships is described here.


Contact details:

Prof. Kerstin Dautenhahn
Canada 150 Research Chair in Intelligent Robotics
University of Waterloo
Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering/Systems
Design Engineering
Office: E5-5027
200 University Ave. W.
Waterloo, Ontario
Canada N2L 3G1

E-mail: kerstin "DOT" dautenhahn "AT"

Tel: +1-519-888-4567 x31455 (I am very often in the laboratory, meetings or off-site and not reachable by phone, the best way to contact me is by email)


Some of my academic activities in 2018:


Some of my academic activities in 2017:


Some of my academic activities in 2016:


Some of my academic activities in 2015:


Some of my academic activities in 2014:


Some of my academic activities in 2013:


Some of my academic activities in 2012:


Some of my academic activities in 2011:


Some of my academic activities in 2010:


Some of my academic activities in 2009:


Some of my academic activities in 2008:


Some of my academic activities in 2007:


Some of my academic activities in 2006:


Some of my academic activities in 2005:


Some of my academic activities in 2004:


Some of my academic activities in 2003:


Some of my academic activities in 2002:


Some of my academic activities in 2001


Some of my academic activities in 2000: 


Some of my academic activities in 1999:


Some of my academic activities in 1998:


Some of my academic activities in 1997:


Activities from 1993-96: Imitation and the Huegellandschaft scenario




PhD projects I am involved in (as Principal Supervisor if not stated otherwise):

Finished PhD projects:

Completed MPhil projects that I supervised:

  • Rafal Dawidowicz (July 2008, University of Hertfordshire): Social relationships in a multi-agent virtual environment.

    Completed MA by research projects that I supervised:

  • Amiy Chatley (December 2010, University of Hertfordshire): Theatre-Based Human-Robot Interaction : A Pilot Study.


    Demonstrations of my robotic work:


    Media involvement:

    An interview with me (in German). During my postdoc time at GMD (1993-1996) I appeared several times on German national television, and articles describing my Artificial life and robotics work appeared e.g. in the national magazine “Focus”. Here is an interview (in German) with me in pointer, an online GMD magazine, on social robots and robot-human relationships.

    More recently, I was involved in the following activities:

    K "Dot" Dautenhahn "AT"