Towards an artist-in-the-lab Framework


Following previous workshop outputs: 1- What do Collaborations with the Arts Have to Say About Human-Robot Interaction? at HRI 2010, 2- Frontiers in Human-Centered Robotics as Seen by the Arts at ICRA 2011, 3- Workshop on Misbehaving Machines at ICSR 2014, 4- Workshop on Artistically Skilled Robots at IROS 2016, 5- What actors can teach robots at CHI 2017, the relevance of artistic works in Human-Robot Interaction and more generally in questioning the significance of robotic development has been demonstrated. A book was edited in order to share these conclusions with the robotic community. Nevertheless, collaborations and interfaces between the different cultures still occur mostly in an ad-hoc manner and lack systematic framework to fully develop their potential.

Sharing experience from various projects, the participants are expected to extract general guidelines for such collaborative projects. The papers submitted as well as the minutes of the workshop and the resulting tentative guidelines will be shared through the platform for future reference as with the previous workshops. Ideally an intention paper will be made out of the conclusions and shared experience of the participants.

The common point between artists and scientists is the fact that both are trying, each with their own means, to approach the frontier of the unknown: to reach a point beyond which nothing can yet be said, and from which territories that nobody has ever explored can be observed and described, inventing a new model of artistic expression or a new scientific model if needed. It is the mode of approach that distinguishes science from arts. Before stating anything new, a scientist must undertake an exhaustive recapitulation of everything that has been said in the specific research field. This long and often tedious process is the sine qua non condition for any worthwhile discovery; and the models that the scientist uses to do so are often very remote from the reality of everyday life. By contrast, the artist reaches the unknown by observing first that the deepest mysteries can be hidden very close to us, and even inside the most ordinary things. It is through these considerations that this workshop seeks to find elements of a common language which could allow to share methodologies and results in a way that is fruitful for everyone.

Call for Proposals

We invite extended abstracts and short papers of 2-4 pages in the standard IROS conference format. Submissions should be in accordance with the topics of interest and they will be available on the workshop’s website. Authors of selected papers will be asked to present their work in a lightning talk (5 minutes). The Call will be open in July.


  • Creativity in robot design
  • User-centered approach to design of robots
  • User experience studies with robots
  • Human-Robot Interactions
  • Creative agents
  • Human/artist robot collaboration

Confirmed Invited Speakers

Nicolas Reeves – professional artist and full-time professor at the School of Design, UQAM, Montréal, Canada. (confirmed) Professor Reeves conducted many research-creation projects over the last decades that were successful both for the scientific community (specifically the roboticists) and the artistic realm. He also was the Scientific Director of the Hexagram Institute, an unique academic experience at merging cultures.

Bill Keays – Science and Technology Advisor at Cirque du Soleil (or replacement). Cirque du Soleil recently started creating performances involving state-of-the-art technologies, such as the UAVs involved in Sparked. Based on their unique business creativity, the model they adopt to realised these experimental projects are great examples for the robotic community.

Shadi Mallak – UI Team Lead at Ubisoft (or replacement). Mr. Cimon manage multidisciplinary teams in order to develop the user interface of the main recent games released at Ubisoft. His expertise dealing with artists and technical experts together will surely inspire the robotic researches.

Jean-Paul Laumond – Full-time professor at Ecole Normale Supérieure of Paris and Research Director of the LAAS-CNRS (confirmed). Professor Laumond is a well-known expert in robotics. He initiated a project on the study of dance notation interpreted by robots to enhance the acceptance and ease the human-robot communication.

Heather Knight – Adjunct professor at Oregon State University. (confirmed) An expert in HRI studies, professor Knight aims at developing a new research framework to invite artists for short-term residencies in her robotic lab.

More creative and unique invited guests soon to be added to this list…


David St-Onge – holds a PhD in mechanical engineering, space robotics, from the University Laval, Canada. His masters degree from the Robotics Laboratory of University Laval was followed by a FRQNT-Team grant for which he then coordinated three universities’ collaborative efforts. In between these diplomas, he worked 7 years in the field of arts (theater, museums and circus). He was the production director of the Prisme 3 stage set workshop, then a development engineer for a media art Montreal-based production company and a freelance engineer for visual and performing artists. Out of interest he also completed a master in project management at ESG UQAM and a certificate in Russian studies at University Laval. He authored more than 20 peer-reviewed publication in the field of robotics. Since 2016, he is a post-doctoral researcher at MIST, a robotics laboratory at École Polytechnique de Montréal.

Email: [email protected]

Damith Herath – holds a PhD in Robotics from the University of Technology, Sydney for his research work at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems (CAS) on robotic mapping and navigation. He has worked as a Research Fellow at CAS, as a visiting Fellow at Toyohashi University of Technology and as the lead Research Engineer on the ARC funded Thinking Head project at the MARCS institute at the University of Western Sydney. Damith has over a decade of experience leading multidisciplinary robotic research projects and is the co- and founding chair of the International Workshop on Robotics & Art held in 2011 and 2014 alongside two key robotics conferences.Damith is the CEO and co-founder of Robological, a multi-award winning Robotics Startup based in Sydney, named one of the 23 most innovative young technology companies in Australia in 2014. Damith is currently an Assistant Professor in Software Engineering attached to the Human-Centred Computing Laboratory at the Faculty of Education, Science, Technology and Mathematics. He is also an honorary visiting Fellow at the Sustainable Materials Research & Technology centre at the University of New South Wales.

Email: [email protected]

William D. Smart – holds an ScM and a PhD in Computer Science from Brown University, US and a MSc in Intelligent Robotics from the University of Edinburgh, UK. Dr. Smart does research in the areas of robotics and machine learning. In robotics, Smart is particularly interested in improving the interactions between people and robots; enabling robots to be self-sufficient for weeks and months at a time; and determining how they can be used as personal assistants for people with severe motor disabilities. In machine learning, Smart is interested in developing strategies for teaching robots to act effectively (or even optimally), based on long-term interactions with the world and given intermittent and at times incorrect feedback on their performance. He is currently full-time professor in the Robotics Program at the Oregon State University, US.

Email: [email protected]


9:00 Workshop introduction and welcome speech
9:10 Invited Speaker 1
9:30 Lightning talks
10:30 Coffee break
11:00 Invited Speaker 2
11:20 Lightning talks
12:00 Lunch break
13h30 Invited Speaker 3
13h50 Invited Speaker 4
14h10 Lightning talks
15h00 Coffee break
15h30 Invited Speaker 5
15h50 Summary and discussion introduction
16h00 Discussion