International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 211–221 | Cite as

Robovie as a Mascot: A Qualitative Study for Long-Term Presence of Robots in a Shopping Mall

  • Alessandra Maria Sabelli
  • Takayuki KandaEmail author


This paper, which reports a qualitative study on a social robot in a local shopping mall in Japan, explores how visitors interacted, understood, and accepted it. In the shopping mall where we conducted our study, Robovie, a humanoid robot, has been tested for 3 years. Based on this context of long-term exposure to a social robot, we conducted short-term interviews and observations with the visitors to the mall. We analyzed the obtained qualitative data by a grounded-theory approach and identified four common trends: (1) association of the robot with its location; (2) assigning of future roles to the robot; (3) perceiving it as a form of entertainment for children, i.e., as a mascot; and (4) perception of autonomy is independent of how the robot works. One might expect people to automatically see the robot as a utility, but instead they tended to consider it a suitable mascot.


Communication robots Social robots Robots in public place Qualitative study 



We thank Dr. Koizumi, Mr. Hato, and Ms. Taniguchi for their help. This research was supported by JST CREST.

Supplementary material

12369_2015_332_MOESM1_ESM.txt (4 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (txt 3 KB)
12369_2015_332_MOESM2_ESM.cls (47 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (cls 46 KB)


  1. 1.
    Burgard W et al (1998) The interactive museum tour-guide robot. In: National conference on artificial intelligence (AAAI1998). pp 11–18Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Shiomi M, Kanda T, Ishiguro H, Hagita N (2007) Interactive humanoid robots for a science museum. IEEE Intell Syst 22:25–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Thrun S et al (1999) Minerva: a second-generation museum tour-guide robot. In: IEEE international conference on robotics and automation (ICRA1999). pp 1999–2005Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Siegwart R et al (2003) Robox at Expo. 02: a large scale installation of personal robots. Robot Auton Syst 42:203–222CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Gockley R et al (2005) Designing robots for long-term social interaction. In: IEEE/RSJ international conference on intelligent robots and systems (IROS2005). pp 1338–1343Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gross H-M et al (2008) Shopbot: progress in developing an interactive mobile shopping assistant for everyday use. In: IEEE international conference on systems, man, and cybernetics (SMC2008). pp 3471–3478Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pineau J, Montemerlo M, Pollack M, Roy N, Thrun S (2003) Towards robotic assistants in nursing homes: challenges and results. Robot Auton Syst 42:271–281CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mazzolai B et al (2008) Networked and cooperating robots for urban hygiene: the eu funded dustbot project. In: The 5th international conference on ubiquitous robots and ambient intelligence (URAI 2008)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ferri G et al (2011) Dustcart, an autonomous robot for door-to-door garbage collection: from dustbot project to the experimentation in the small town of Peccioli. In: IEEE international conference on robotics and automation (ICRA2011). pp 655–660Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mutlu B, Forlizzi J (2008) Robots in organizations: the role of workflow, social, and environmental factors in human–robot interaction. In: ACM/IEEE international conference on human–robot interaction (HRI2008). pp 287–294Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Iwamura Y, Shiomi M, Kanda T, Ishiguro H, Hagita N (2011) Do Elderly people prefer a conversational humanoid as a shopping assistant partner in supermarkets? In: ACM/IEEE international conference on human–robot interaction (HRI2011). pp 449–456Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Weiss A et al (2010) Robots asking for directions: the willingness of passers-by to support robots. In: ACM/IEEE international conference on human–robot interaction (HRI2010). pp 23–30Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Heerink M, Kröse B, Wielinga B, Evers V (2008) Enjoyment, intention to use and actual use of a conversational robot by elderly people. In: ACM/IEEE international conference on human–robot interaction (HRI2008). pp 113–120Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Heerink M, Kröse B, Evers V, Wielinga B (2010) Assessing acceptance of assistive social agent technology by older adults: the Almere model. Int J Soc Robot 2:361–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Bartneck C, Kulic D, Croft E, Zoghbi S (2009) Measurement instruments for the anthropomorphism, animacy, likeability, perceived intelligence, and perceived safety of robots. Int J Soc Robot 1:71–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kamide H et al (2012) New measurement of psychological safety for humanoid. In: Proceedings of the seventh annual ACM/IEEE international conference on human–robot interaction. ACM, pp 49–56Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kahn PH Jr et al (2012) Robovie, you’ll have to go into the closet now: children’s social and moral relationships with a humanoid robot. Dev Psychol 48:303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Nomura T, Suzuki T, Kanda T, Kato K (2006) Measurement of negative attitudes toward robots. Interact Stud 7:437–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Steinfeld A et al (2006) Common metrics for human–robot interaction. In: ACM/IEEE international conference on human–robot interaction (HRI2006). pp 33–40Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Forlizzi J (2007) How robotic products become social products: an ethnographic study of cleaning in the home. In: ACM/IEEE international conference on human–robot interaction (HRI2007). pp 129–136Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lee MK, Kiesler S, Forlizzi J, Rybski P (2012) Ripple effects of an embedded social agent : a field study of a social robot in the workplace. In: ACM conference on human factors in computing systems (CHI2012). pp 695–704Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Sabelli AM, Kanda T, Hagita N (2011) A conversational robot in an elderly care center: an ethnographic study. In: ACM/IEEE international conference on human–robot interaction (HRI2011). pp 37–44Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Kanda T, Ishiguro H, Imai M, Ono T (2004) Development and evaluation of interactive humanoid robots. Proc IEEE 92:1839–1850CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Morales Y, Kanda T, Hagita N (2014) Walking together: side by side walking model for an interacting robot. J Hum Robot Interact 3:51–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Zheng K, Glas DF, Kanda T, Ishiguro H, Hagita N (2011) How many social robots can one operator control? In: ACM/IEEE international conference on human–robot interaction (HRI 2011). Lausanne, Switzerland, pp 379–386Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Glas DF et al (2012) The network robot system: enabling social human–robot interaction in public spaces. J Hum Robot Interact 1:5–32Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Glaser BG, Strauss A (1967) The discovery of grounded theory. Aldine DeGruyter, HawthorneGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Gibson B, Hartman J (2013) Rediscovering grounded theory. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Tolhurst E (2012) Grounded theory method: sociology’s quest for exclusive items of inquiry. In: Forum Qual Sozialforschung Forum Qual Soc Res 13(3)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Forlizzi J, DiSalvo C (2006) Service robots in the domestic environment: a study of the roomba vacuum in the home. In: ACM/IEEE international conference on human–robot interaction (HRI2006). pp 258–265Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Sung J, Grinter RE, Christensen HI (2010) Domestic robot ecology. Int J Soc Robot 2:417–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Syrdal DS, Dautenhahn K, Koay KL, Walters ML, Otero NR (2010) Exploring human mental models of robots through explicitation interviews. In: RO-MAN, 2010 IEEE. IEEE, pp 638–645Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Yanco HA et al (2015) Analysis of human–robot interaction at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials. J Field Robot 32:420–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Huber A, Lammer L, Weiss A, Vincze M (2014) Designing adaptive roles for socially assistive robots: a new method to reduce technological determinism and role stereotypes. J Hum Robot Interact 3:100–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International IRCKeihanna Science CityJapan

Personalised recommendations