International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 421–438 | Cite as

The Role of Functional Affordances in Socializing Robots

  • Iman Awaad
  • Gerhard K. Kraetzschmar
  • Joachim Hertzberg


Just as humans behave according to the social norms of their groups, autonomous systems that become part of these groups also need to behave in socially-expected and accepted ways. For humans these social norms are learned through interaction with members of the group. In this work, we propose that the functional affordances of objects, what objects are meant to be used for, provide us with a starting point for the socialization of such agents. We model these functional affordances in description logics and show how this enables the socially-expected human behavior of substituting objects as needed to achieve a goal. In addition, we propose to combine these affordances with conceptual similarity and proximity in order to make more complex substitutions, which are socially acceptable in their given context. Finally, we describe how their use would allow the agent to take advantage of opportunities and how they are modified and extended through interaction with humans.


Social intelligence Affordances Robotics Plan-based robot control Reasoning 



The authors thank Elizaveta Shpieva, Christian Tiefenau, Daniel Höller and Sven Schneider for their help in implementing some of the ideas presented here. The authors also thank Sven Schneider and Anastassia Küstenmacher for the many useful discussions. Parts of this publication have been previously published in [4, 5]. Iman Awaad gratefully acknowledges financial support provided by a PhD scholarship from the Graduate Institute of Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iman Awaad
    • 1
  • Gerhard K. Kraetzschmar
    • 1
  • Joachim Hertzberg
    • 2
  1. 1.Bonn-Rhein-Sieg UniversitySankt AugustinGermany
  2. 2.Osnabrück University and DFKI RIC Osnabrück BranchOsnabrückGermany

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