Robots in the city – Workshop in Bucarest

As part of the 2019 France – Romania season, we were invited to lead a 2-days workshop in Bucarest. Isabelle Cossin & Estelle Berger from StrateResearch were accompanied by Olivia Flouty, Master student in Design for Smart Cities at Strate.

Using the means of Experience Design, we aimed at opening a discussion on the potential impacts on our lives brought by ‘Robots in the city‘. We were lucky to have a rich audience, composed of UX designers, robotics engineers, students, business consultants and artists.

We used 7 ethical dilemmas attached to social robotics as a starting point for design exploration.

Firstly, workshop participants were invited to immerse themselves in situations, by filling an Experience Map focused on emotions and relations (tool developed by StrateResearch).

Imagining several layers of variation

Then, they imagined how various factors could transform the experiencing: what if a new actor comes into play? what if a robot behaves unexpectedly? what if this situation happened in another place? … Playing with those parameters led them to designing alternative scenarios, shifting paradigm. Each group of participants then choreographed a scene to experience, share and discuss. On the last day, we came up with 7 Experiential Prototypes, all embodying very diverse and inspiring social robotics experiences. Below are a few pictures of the outcomes.

A robotic assistant mediating the relationship between nurses and patients. He is not designed to be smart but a little dumb which makes him likable!
A ‘tree nanny’, both secret and social space growing with the child, and inducing a mutual care relationship.
How might ‘the spirit’ of a bridge prevent suicidal impulses?
An experiential path through the airport, preparing stressed passengers for a relaxed flight
The continuing relationship between an orphan child and her robotic ‘step-father’

The workshop was an opportunity for us to share our approach to Experience Design. The ethical questioning used as a framework allowed gathering insights on the social acceptability of robots – be they humanoid, non-humanoid, robjects, interfaces or ambient devices. Congratulations to all the participants who deeply engaged in the workshop, creating a spontaneous and warm atmosphere. Many thanks to our partners:

We look forward to further collaborating and sharing our passion for design, in France or Romania!