International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 629–639 | Cite as

Are Children with ASD more Prone to Test the Intentions of the Robonova Robot Compared to a Human?

  • Andreea Peca
  • Ramona Simut
  • Sebastian Pintea
  • Bram Vanderborght


This study proposes an innovative device specifically designed for investigating the ability of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to test the intention of a partner in a dyadic interactive game. Twenty one children with ASD were exposed to both a contingent and a noncontingent interaction condition with either a human agent or the Robonova robot as partners. The statistical analysis indicates a strong tendency toward a significant higher frequency of testing behaviors in the robot noncontingent condition and no difference between the two groups (robot/human) for the contingent condition. Children with ASD showed significantly more eye gaze to the robot compared to the human agent in both contingent and noncontingent conditions, but no difference in affect was found. The high level of initiations recorded in all conditions suggests that the game has a high motivational value for ASD children. Further longitudinal studies should investigate if such synchronous interaction games lead to improved shared intentionality in children with ASD.


Intention testing behaviors Imitation Autism  Human–robot interaction 



The authors thank the Therapy Center-Împreună pas cu pas, the children that participated in the study and their parents, which made this study possible. This work has been supported by the CNCSIS-Bucharest, Romania project PN-II-IDPCE-2011-3-0484-Exploring Robot-assisted therapy for children with ASD.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreea Peca
    • 1
  • Ramona Simut
    • 2
  • Sebastian Pintea
    • 1
  • Bram Vanderborght
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Psychology and PsychotherapyBabeş-Bolyai UniversityCluj-NapocaRomania
  2. 2.Clinical and Life Span Psychology DepartmentVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselBelgium
  3. 3.Robotics and Multibody Mechanics Research GroupVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselBelgium

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