Robots in Public Space

Robotic technologies are increasingly present in urban public spaces, with applications for delivery, cleaning, security and wayfinding already in city spaces around the world. However, beyond the uses that designers and engineers intend, robots shape how our shared spaces feel – although very little is known about their impact and effects on public space, or the appropriate policy settings to oversee them. This new interdisciplinary project addresses this by developing new methodologies and policy insights for this rapidly proliferating technology.


Robotic Logics of Public Space in the COVID Pandemic. Shanti Sumartojo, Daniele Lugli, Dana Kulić, Leimin Tian, Pamela Carreno-Medrano, Michael Mintrom, and Aimee Allen. Read full article here.

About Robots in Public Space

Investigating the Impact of Robots on Public Space is a research project that aims to improve how we understand the impact that robots have on public space. It brings social scientific conceptual and methodological frameworks to a new study of human-robot interaction and new applications of socio-affective robotics, including interdisciplinary design workshops to test, refine and communicate these frameworks throughout the project. This project is novel and ambitious in its interdisciplinary breadth, speculative approach and focuses on a rapidly-developing high-impact research area.

Seed funding from the Data Futures Institute Interdisciplinary Research Fund will enable a new, interdisciplinary methodology for understanding how robots affect public space for people, and identify relevant implications for public policy and robot design based on these new insights.

By developing online participatory co-design workshops, the research team has been working with participants to understand how robots in public space settings are perceived and what tasks and behaviours 'feel right'. Based on this research, the team will seek to understand how participants make sense of and understand the robots and use these insights to develop the technologies for further research.


Robots in public spaces: implications for policy design. Michael Mintrom, Shanti Sumartojo, Dana Kulić, Leimin Tian, Pamela Carreno-Medrano & Aimee Allen. Read full article here.

About the Contributing Centres

The Emerging Technologies Research Lab is an interdisciplinary and internationally embedded research lab which conducts research into the social, cultural and experiential dimensions of the design, use and futures of new and emerging technologies. The Lab is a cross-faculty initiative through the Faculties of Art, Design & Architecture and Information Technology at Monash University.

Monash Data Futures Institute brings together leading cross-disciplinary expertise, international partnerships and a large affiliate network. Using data-driven AI, we are enhancing health sciences, governance and policy and sustainable development – and empowering more agents of positive change.

Better Governance and Policy facilitates the output of highly relevant, research-based contributions to discussions of contemporary issues in policy and governance and enables increased knowledge exchange and policy engagement locally, nationally, and internationally.

Monash Robotics pursues human-centred robotics research, fusing human-centred design and embedded machine intelligence. Our expert team of world-leading robotics researchers, students and industry partners collaborate to advance discoveries in perception and learning, human-robot interaction and design and manipulation.

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Featured Article

Robotic Logics of Public Space in the COVID Pandemic

Shanti Sumartojo, Daniele Lugli, Dana Kulić, Leimin Tian, Pamela Carreno-Medrano, Michael Mintrom, and Aimee Allen