Human-like Behavior and Cognition in Robots

This Special Issue is in continuation of the HBCR workshop organized at the 2021 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2021) on ‘Human-like Behavior and Cognition in Robots’. Building robots capable of behaving in a human-like manner is a long-term goal in robotics. It is becoming even more crucial with the growing number of applications in which robots are brought closer to humans, not only trained experts, but also inexperienced users, children, the elderly, or clinical populations. Current research from different disciplines contributes to this general endeavor in various ways: by creating robots that mimic specific aspects of human behavior, by designing brain-inspired cognitive architectures for robots, by implementing embodied neural models driving robots’ behavior, by reproducing human motion dynamics on robots, by investigating how humans perceive and interact with robots, dependent on the degree of the robots’ human-likeness. This special issue thus welcomes research articles as well as theoretical articles from different areas of research (e.g., robotics, artificial intelligence, human-robot interaction, computational modeling of human cognition and behavior, psychology, cognitive neuroscience) addressing questions such as the following: How to design robots with human-like behavior and cognition? What are the best methods for examining human-like behavior and cognition? What are the best approaches for implementing human-like behavior and cognition in robots? How to manipulate, control and measure robots‘ degree of human-likeness? Is autonomy a prerequisite for human-likeness? How to best measure human reception of human-likeness of robots? What is the link between perceived human-likeness and social attunement in human-robot interaction? How can such human-like robots inform and enable human-centered research? How can modeling human-like behavior in robots inform us about human cognition? In what contexts and applications do we need human-like behavior or cognition? And in what contexts it is not necessary? Submissions should not exceed 8000 words and should follow the submission guidelines of the International Journal of Social Robotics. Submissions are welcomed from contributors who attended the workshop or conference as well as from those who did not.


  • Marwen Belkaid

    is a postdoctoral researcher in robotics and neuroscience at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). He received his PhD in December 2016 from the University of Cergy-Pontoise where he was working with the Equipes Traitement de l'Information et Systèmes (ETIS) laboratory. Then, he was a postdoc at the Institut des Systèmes Intelligents et de Robotique (ISIR) and the Neuroscience Paris-Seine (NPS) laboratories at Sorbonne Université, Paris, France. His research interests are in decision-making, social interactions, and emotion.

  • Giorgio Metta

    is the Scientific Director of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). He holds a MSc cum laude (1994) and PhD (2000) in electronic engineering both from the University of Genoa. From 2001 to 2002, Giorgio was postdoctoral associate at the MIT AI-Lab. He was previously with the University of Genoa and from 2012 to 2019 Professor of Cognitive Robotics at the University of Plymouth (UK). His research activities are in the fields of biologically motivated and humanoid robotics and, in particular, in developing humanoid robots that can adapt and learn from experience.

  • Tony J. Prescott

    received the M.A. degree in psychology from the University of Edinburgh, U.K., the M.Sc. degree in applied artificial intelligence from the University of Aberdeen, U.K., and the Ph.D. degree in machine learning from the University of Sheffield, UK. He is a currently a Professor of Cognitive Robotics with the Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield. He is also a co-founder and the current Director of Sheffield Robotics, a cross-disciplinary institute across both universities in Sheffield.

  • Agnieszka Wykowska

    leads the unit “Social Cognition in Human-Robot Interaction” at the Italian Institute of Technology (Genoa, Italy), and is an adjunct professor of engineering psychology at the Luleå University of Technology as well as visiting professor at the University of Manchester. She graduated in neuro-cognitive psychology (2006, LMU Munich), obtained PhD in psychology (2008) and the German “Habilitation” (2013) from LMU Munich. In 2016 she was awarded the ERC Starting grant “InStance: Intentional Stance for Social Attunement”. In her research, she combines cognitive neuroscience methods with human-robot interaction.


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