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Engagement during Interaction with Assistive Robots

Author(s): Raffaele Esposito, Francesca Fracasso, Raffaele Limosani, Grazia D Onofrio, Daniele Sancarlo, Gabriella Cortellessa, Amedeo Cesta, Paolo Dario, Filippo Cavallo


Among various solutions to aid the aging population, the research community is focusing on assistive robotics that may help to delay admission to care facilities by fostering independence of older people in their homes. This paper presents the Robot-Era project and experimentation aimed at investigating 1) the psychological attitude of users toward robotic platforms as assistive companions, by assessing their level of engagement and 2) how the robot’s technological performance could affect the users’ level of engagement during their interaction with it.


Twenty-six older adults (M=13, F=13) were invited to interact with the robot during the experimental session. Data collection was based on observational methods; video recording of users’ interactions with assistive robots were evaluated and coded to retrieve both behavioral data on users’ engagement, and dialogue quality and efficiency metrics on robot performance.


Behavioral data revealed an overall positive attitude toward the robot, with facial expressions and gestures serving also to increase the communicative strength of messages to the robot, suggesting a good degree of engagement during the interaction. Moreover, a lower frequency of robot utterances was found to be related to higher degrees of engagement, enjoyment, instrumental use, and exploration behavior.


Results from our investigation show that a robotic platform’s technical features and performance significantly influence the user’s engagement level during interaction with the robot.

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