Autonomous Mobile Robots as Technical Artifacts: A Discussion of Experimental Issues

Conference paper
Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 8)


The definition of good experimental methodologies is a topic of growing interest in autonomous mobile robotics. Recently, researchers in this field have started to recognize that their experimental methodologies have not yet reached the level of maturity of other disciplines. In the effort of improving the quality of experimental activities, some proposals have been made to take inspiration from how experiments are performed in traditional sciences. However, a comprehensive analysis of the peculiar features involved in the experimentation of autonomous mobile robots intended as engineering artifacts is, to the best of our knowledge, still lacking. In this paper, we aim at contributing to fill this gap by discussing experiments in autonomous mobile robotics from an engineering point of view. We start by considering autonomous mobile robots as technical artifacts, namely as physical entities designed for a technical function and provided with a use plan. Then, we show that, due to the nature of the field, scientific and engineering aspects are strongly interrelated in the experimental activities performed to assess and evaluate autonomous mobile robots. To make our discussion more concrete, we refer to some examples taken from the specific robotic application of search and rescue of victims after a disaster.


Experiments Autonomous mobile robots Technical artifacts 



The authors gratefully thank the anonymous reviewers, Alberto Quattrini Li, the members of the PoAReT team (, and the Fondazione Banca del Monte di Lombardia for the financial support.


  1. 1.
    Amigoni, F., Caltieri, A., Cipolleschi, R., Conconi, G., Giusto, M., Luperto, M., Mazuran, M.: PoAReT team description paper. In: RoboCup2012 Proceedings CD (2012)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Amigoni, F., Schiaffonati, V., Verdicchio, M.: An analysis of experimental trends in autonomous robotics papers. In: ICRA2012 (IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation) Workshop on the Conditions for Replicable Experiments and Performance Comparison in Robotics Research (2012)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Amigoni, F., Schiaffonati, V.: Good experimental methodologies and simulation in autonomous mobile robotics. In: Magnani, L., et al. (eds.) Model-Based Reasoning in Science & Technology, SCI 314, pp. 315–332 (2010)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Amigoni, F., Reggiani, M., Schiaffonati, V.: An insightful comparison between experiments in mobile robotics and in science. Auton. Robot. 27, 313–325 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    BRICS—Best practice in robotics,
  6. 6.
  7. 7.
    Hacking, I.: Representing and Intervening. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1983)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Howard, A., Roy, N.: The robotics data set repository (Radish),
  9. 9.
    Madhavan, R., Scrapper, C., Kleiner, A.: Special issue on characterizing mobile robot localization and mapping. Auton. Robot. 27, 309–481 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
  11. 11.
  12. 12.
    ROS—Robot Operating System,
  13. 13.
    RoSta—Robot standards and reference architectures,
  14. 14.
    Siegwart, R., Nourbakhsh, I., Scaramuzza, D.: Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robotics, 2nd edn. The MIT Press, Cambridge (2011)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Simon, H.A.: The Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd edn. The MIT Press, Cambridge (1996)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Tadokoro, S.: Rescue Robotics. Springer, New York (2010)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Vermaas, P., Kroes, P., van de Poel, I., Franssen, M., Houkes, W.: A Philosophy of Technology. From Technical Artefacts to Sociotechnical Systems. Morgan and Claypool, San Rafael (2011)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Vincenti, W.G.: What Engineers Know and How They Know It. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore (1990)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Laboratory, Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e BioingegneriaPolitecnico diMilanoItaly

Personalised recommendations