HRI 2016 workshop

Workshop on Intention Recognition in Human-Robot Interaction
March 7, 2016

in conjunction with the
11th ACM / IEEE International Conference on
Human-Robot Interaction (HRI 2016)

Christchurch, New Zealand


09:00  Organizers’ introduction – Thill, Montebelli & Ziemke

09:30  Keynote 1 – Tony Belpaeme, “Intention reading in robots and humans: where to from here?”

10:30  coffee break

11:00  Pautler et al., Design Objectives for Cognitive Models of Intention Perception

11:30  Jorgensen & Sentis, Arm Motion Gesture Recognition using Dynamic Movement Primitives and Gaussian Mixture Models

12:00  lunch

13:00  Keynote 2 – Yukie Nagai, “Intention reading and collaboration based on mirror neuron system”

14:00  Wang et al., “Awakening the Force: Decoding Human Intention Through the Coupling of EEG Signal and Saccade Movement to Control Wearable Devices”

14:30  Mavrogiannis & Knepper, “Interpretation and Communication of Pedestrian Intentions Using Braid Groups”

15:00  coffee break

15:30  general discussion

Background & Motivation

Research in the cognitive sciences, not least social neuroscience, has in the last 10-20 years made substantial progress in elucidating the mechanisms underlying the recognition of actions and intentions in natural human-human social interactions and in developing computational models of these mechanisms. However, there is much less research on the mechanisms underlying the human interpretation of the behaviour of artefacts, such as robots or automated vehicles, and the attribution of intentions to such systems.

Given the state of the art in psychology and neuroscience, there are also at least two very different intuitions that one might have:

On the one hand it has been well known for decades from psychological experiments that people tend to interpret even simple moving shapes in terms of more or less human-like actions and intentions. So the first intuition could be that this should also apply to robots and other autonomous systems.

On the other hand, much (social) neuroscience research in the last 10-20 years, not least the discovery of the so-called mirror (neuron) system, also points to the importance of embodiment and morphological differences, which might lead to the intuition that humans might be able to more or less easily understand the behaviour of very human-like robots, but not necessarily the behaviour of, for example, autonomous lawnmowers or automated vehicles.

To what degree, and how precisely, each of these mechanisms might be involved when interacting with artificial agents remains unknown. It may, for instance, depend at least in part on the human perception of the agent: previous research has shown that humans adapt their behaviour according to their beliefs of the cognitive abilities of another (even artificial) agent and we have previously suggested that such agents need to be understood in terms of how socially interactive they are, and how
tool-like their purpose is. Conversely, the same insights and intuitions are also relevant for robot recognition of human intentions, which is a arguably a prerequisite for pro-social behaviour, and necessary to engage in, for instance, instrumental helping or mutual collaboration. To develop robots that can interact naturally and effectively with people therefore requires the creation of systems that can perceive and comprehend intentions in other agents.

For research on human interaction with artificial agents such as robots in general, and mutual action/intention recognition in particular, it is therefore important to be clear about the theoretical framework(s) and inherent assumptions underlying technological implementations. This has further ramifications for the evaluation of the quality of the interaction (as opposed to the functioning of the robot itself) between humans and robots. Overall, this remains very much an active research area in which further development is necessary, and the purpose of this workshop is to advance the state of the art in that respect.


  1. Prof. Tony Belpaeme, Plymouth University, UK
  2. Prof. Yukie Nagai, Osaka University, Japan


The workshop will be centred around three main activities:

  1. keynote presentations to highlight the overall state of the art
  2. oral paper presentations that deal with specific aspects of the work carried out by workshop participants
  3. a round-table discussion that will allow all participants to contribute their thoughts on the open and most pressing research challenges

Suitable topics for the workshop include all aspects of intention recognition in human-robot interaction, e.g.

  • mechanisms of intention recognition in natural interaction
  • machine recognition of human intentions
  • human recognition/attribution of robot intentions
  • implications for the evaluation of HRI.

We particularly encourage papers that consider mutual intention recognition (i.e. both human recognition of robot intentions and robot recognition of human intentions in given application contexts), but will also consider papers that deal with uni-directional intention recognition. Papers can be pure position papers, or can substantiate their message with empirical work.

Papers will be peer-reviewed, and we emphasise that papers must make an interesting, relevant, and novel contribution (whether theoretical or empirical) to the state of the art.


Preliminary proceedings will be published in the “Skövde University Studies in Informatics” technical report series (ISSN 1653-2325). Authors have the right to opt out of these proceedings. Depending on the quality of the submissions, a special issue with extended versions will be organised in a suitable journal after the workshop.



Submission deadline – Feb 5, 2016
Notification of acceptance/rejection – latest Feb 12

March 7, 2016 – Workshop date

Submission Instructions

Please e-mail your paper to and by the submission deadline (January 20, 2016).

We expect papers to be 4-8 pages using the IEEE conference templates (available at