Researchers have begun to discover preferences in human-robot interactions and the need to personalize those encounters to fit both the human’s preferences and the designated task. The researchers tested user preferences when interacting with a robot on a joint movement task as a first step toward developing an interactive movement protocol to be used in rehabilitation.

The study yielded three main conclusions. First, robotic movement primes the human movement. That is, the person tends to imitate the movements of the robot. Second, there was no clear-cut preference for leading or following the robot. Half the group preferred to lead the human-robot movement while half preferred to follow. Lastly, the study participants preferred smooth, familiar movements — which resemble human movements — rather than sharp (“robotic”) or unfamiliar movements when the robot was leading the interaction.

According to the researchers, determining the elements in the interaction that make users more motivated to continue is important in designing future robots that will interact with humans on a daily basis.