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Human Robot Interaction


Admission Requirements

Students need to be registered for the minor AI and Society to follow this course.


This course explores the intricate, fascinating, and evolving field of robotics. As we witness an unprecedented acceleration in adopting robot technologies for multiple tasks, Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) delves into the realms where these advancements intersect with everyday human activities and explores the broader societal implications robots have for society.
Throughout the course, we will examine a vast spectrum of robotic systems, from those offering companionship and assistance to humans, such as therapeutic and physical assistive robots, to those performing critical tasks in challenging environments, including firebots for emergency response and firefighting operations, farming robots for agriculture, and advanced surgical robots for healthcare. Since automation goes beyond societal contexts but increasingly weaves with very personal spheres, the course will dig into the intriguing domain of other robots deployed in sensitive, personal application domains like religion or sex. This unique segment will explore how robots integrate into religious practices, from performing ceremonial duties to providing spiritual guidance and companionship. We will also discuss the implications of sex robots and the role they may (or may not) have in helping fulfill the sexual rights of specific communities.
Each robot type represents a unique set of interactions, design considerations, and ethical implications when deployed in human-centric settings. To that end, we will examine the nuances of anthropomorphization in robotics—how imbuing robots with human-like qualities affects user interaction, trust, and acceptance; and the psychological and social dynamics when humans interact with robots designed to mimic human appearance or behavior.
By the end of this course, students will have gained a deep understanding of the multifaceted relationships between humans and robots and be equipped with the knowledge to critically assess the benefits, challenges, and societal impacts of HRI. Through a blend of theoretical insights and practical case studies, this course will prepare students to navigate and contribute to the future of human-robot collaboration in an ethical and socially responsible manner.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students will be able to:
1. Understand the Fundamentals of Robotics and Human-robot Interaction. Students will have a comprehensive understanding of robotics, focusing on the interaction between humans and robots and how these technologies integrate into various aspects of human life and society.
2. Examine a Wide Spectrum of Robotic Systems. Students will be able to explore a wide range of robotic systems, including therapeutic and physical assistive robots, emergency response robots like firebots, agricultural robots, advanced surgical robots, and robots in sensitive application domains such as religion and sex, understanding their applications, design considerations, and the unique interactions they have with humans.
3. Analyze Ethical, Societal, Legal, and Psychological Implications of Human-Robot Interaction. Students will be able to critically assess the ethical considerations, societal impacts, and psychological dynamics involved in HRI, mainly focusing on the effects of anthropomorphization and how robots designed to mimic human appearance or behavior influence user interaction, trust, and acceptance.
4. Explore the Role of Robotics in Personal and Sensitive Domains. Students will delve into the use of robots in sensitive and personal application areas, discussing how robots integrate into religious practices and the implications of sex robots, including their potential roles in fulfilling the sexual rights of specific communities.
5. Think critically about the deployment of robotics in society. Students will have the knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary to navigate the challenges and opportunities in the field of HRI, enabling them to contribute to the advancement of human-robot collaboration in an ethical and socially responsible manner through a blend of theoretical insights and practical case studies.


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of Instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures/seminars: 10

  • Names of lecturers: E. Fosch Villaronga and invited lectures.

  • Required preparation by students: Reading the required materials on Brightspace, and submitting one group assignment.

  • Interactive lectures for which registration is required (in MyStudymap/Usis all interactive lectures are mentioned as working groups).

  • Attendance on all the dates is not mandatory but each session contains essential information to help you prepare for the final exam and the group work

Assessment Method

Examination form(s):

  • Group work (35%);

  • Final exam (65%).

The group work assignment is obligatory. The group work assignment counts for 35% of the final grade, must be successfully completed with at least a grade of 5.5., and cannot be retaken.

The written final exam counts for 65% of the final grade. The exam must be completed with at least a grade of 5.5. A lower grade than 5.5 in the written exam will make students go for a retake. Only the final exam can be retaken, whereby the assignments and group work grades remain valid.

If the course is not completed with a passing grade within the academic year, any grades obtained for the group work and its assignments will expire by the end of the academic year.

Submission procedures
To be announced through Brightspace.

Areas to be tested within the exam
The examination syllabus consists of the required reading (literature) for the course, the course information guide and the subjects taught in the lectures, the seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.

Reading List

Obligatory course materials


  • All required readings are available via Brightspace in week-by-week folders

Course information guide:

  • See Brightspace

Recommended course materials

  • See Brightspace


Registration for courses and exams takes place via MyStudymap. If you do not have access to MyStudymap (guest student) please check here under the Law tab for more information about the registration procedure in your situation.


Coordinator: Eduard Fosch Villaronga


Institute: eLaw Center for Law and Digital Technologies
Department: Interdisciplinary Study of the Law (Metajuridica)
Telephone number secretary: 071 – 527 8838


Students need to be registered for the minor AI and Society to follow this course.