Human-Robot Interaction Lab @ Heriot-Watt University

We are a research group at Heriot-Watt University, working on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) - the interdisciplinary research area dedicated to understanding, designing, and evaluating robotic systems for use in collaboration with humans.

We will be based in the new HRI-lab of the Robotarium research facility of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics  - a specially designed experimental space for HRI which can be booked for specific projects, experiments, and data collections.

The HRI lab of the Robotarium is a specially designed reconfigurable experimental space for studying interactions between humans and robots, including multiple sensors such as microphone arrays, motion-capture, and video cameras, and several robots including the iCub and FLASH. 
The  HRI lab has an observation area separated from an experimental area, where visitors and members of the public  can interact with different robots in different settings (e.g. lounge, shopping centre, hospital bay). The lab  can be booked for specific projects, experiments, and data collections.
Research in the group ranges over socially intelligent interaction with humans, instrumented interactive spaces,  affective interaction, language learning, teachable robots, Natural Language interfaces, multimodal interaction, and interactive robot navigation.

Some of our researchers also work in the Interaction Lab and the Robotics Lab.

We are currently participating in several funded research projects:
  • Socially intelligent Human-Robot Interaction (MuMMER project, EC Horizon 2020)  (PI: Oliver Lemon)
  • SoCoRo (Socially Competent Robot Training Buddy) (EPSRC) (PI: Ruth Aylett)
  • DataLab/ EmoTech knowledge transfer project: A Voice Interface for Olly the Robot (PI: Verena Rieser)
  • MaDrIgAL - MultiDimensional Interaction management and Adaptive Learning for In-Home Robots (EPSRC, EP/N017536/1, 2016-2018) (PI: Verena Rieser)
  • SAS-ROGE - "Smart Airships Swarm And Robotic Ground Electrical Vehicles For Environmental Monitoring And Surveillance" (PI: Patricia Vargas)
  • REGIME: "REport GeneratIon from Meta-data"  (Dstl) (PI: Helen Hastie) with SeeByte and Thales
  • BABBLE: learning grounded word meanings for HRI (EPSRC) (PI: Oliver Lemon)
Our previous projects include:
  • Socially intelligent human-robot interaction: the JAMES project (EC, FP7): video (Ron Petrick and Oliver Lemon)
  • Human-Robot Interaction for teaching and learning: the EMOTE project (EC, FP7, Ruth Aylett and Helen Hastie)
  • Self-learning robotic ecologies: the RUBICON project (EC FP7, Mauro Dragone) 
  • GUI project - Generation for Uncertain Information for spatially situated robots, (EPSRC, EP/L026775/1, 2014-2015) (PI: Verena Rieser) [related special issue in Advance Robotics] (guest editor: Verena Rieser)


  • 10/6/16: Pepper Robot arrives!
  • 14/7/16: SEMINAR: "Experiences in software management and continuous integration in a ROS-based robotics project", Dr Marc Hanheide (Lincoln Uni)


  • Ruth Aylett (Autonomous Affective Agents group)
  • Frank Broz 
  • Mauro Dragone
  • Suphi Erden
  • Helen Hastie (Interaction for Autonomy)
  • Oliver Lemon (Director of Interaction Lab)
  • Katrin Lohan (Robotics Lab)
  • Boris Mocialov (PhD Student)
  • Ron Petrick
  • Verena Rieser (Director of the NLP group)
  • Nick Taylor (Deputy Director, ECR)
  • Patricia Vargas (Director of Robotics Lab)
  • Christian Dondrup (Postdoc, MuMMER project)
  • Jekaterina Novikova (Postdoc, MuMMER project)
  • Yanchao Yu (Phd student)
  • Ioannis Papaioannou (Phd student)
  • Jose Part (Phd student)
  • Ingo Keller (PhD Student)
  • Eli Sheppard (PhD Student)
  • Andrea Vanzo (visiting scientist)
  • Xinnuo Xu (PhD Student)
(contact emails:


  • Pepper
  • iCub
  • Nao
  • Flash
  • FurHat
  • Parrot drones
  • Bebop drones


  • To book time in the Robotarium HRI lab, please contact Oliver Lemon.
  • To work with the iCub, contact Katrin Lohan and Frank Broz
  • To work with the Pepper, please contact Christian Dondrup.
  • To work with the FurHat, please contact Yanchao Yu.
  • To work with the Flash, please contact Ruth Aylett.
  • To work with the Naos, and Parrot and Bebop drones, please contact Patricia Vargas.