i n v e s t i g a t o r s :
Keith Evan Green (PI)
Design (DEA), Mech.E , Cornell
an D. Walker )C0-PI)
ECE, Clemson

t e a m :
Cindy Kao
Faculty, Design, Cornell
Nithesh Kumar
PhD ECE student, Clemson
Hsin-Ming Chao
MS Design student, Cornell
Bruno Tassari
M.Eng, Mech. E., Cornell
Elena Sabinson
PhD Design student, Cornell
Yixiao Wang
PhD Design student, Cornell
Samantha Hollenberg
M.Eng., Mech. E., Cornell
Richa Sirohi
M.Eng., Systems. E. Cornell
Yuxin Zhou
M.Eng, Mech. E., Cornell
Seshasowri Chunduri
M.Eng, Systems. E., Cornell
Justin Jacobs
M.Eng, Mech. E., Cornell
Kathryn Roberts
M.Eng, Mech. E., Cornell
Harrison Hidalgo
M.Eng, Mech. E., Cornell
Grace Tan
M.Eng, ECE, Cornell

f u n d i n g :
U.S. National Science Foundation # IIS-2221215 for the Cornell lead

NSF logo

Robot surfaces as envisioned for two people working together in a micro-office.


                      and Robot Surfaces

o v e r v i e w :

This project’s goal is to explore how robotic systems could become deeply integrated into people’s living and working spaces via “robot-rooms.” People are increasingly using technologies such as voice assistants and intelligent thermostats to customize and interact with spaces; the project team’s vision is to use robotic surface technologies they have developed to allow the room itself to change configuration and physically interact with occupants. This scenario may have benefits in a number of contexts: houses that adapt to facilitate family and individual interaction; workspaces that automatically adjust to an individual’s abilities and tasks to make work more comfortable and efficient; hotels and apartments that can adapt to many different visitors in a short time; museum exhibits that provide a wide variety of immersive experiences; and many others. The team plans to implement multiple prototypes to both explore these possibilities and to support outreach activities aimed at encouraging youth to enter robotics-related careers and to raise public awareness of the possibilities of robots in everyday life.

In the project, the team will develop: (a) a design space of possibilities for what characterizes a robot-room, informed by human needs and wants; (b) a working prototype, and (c) a deep understanding of how inhabitants are supported and augmented by a robot-room, following real-world scenarios. Specifically, the investigators will conduct a user-experience study to investigate the experiences of participants interacting with prototypes representing two robot-room concepts using rapid prototyping techniques. The results of this study will form the basis for the development of a full-scale robot-room prototype. Ongoing interaction studies will iterate the robot-room prototype through cycles of evaluation with respect to its usability, performance, and efficacy. Ultimately, the robot-rooms investigated in this project will prove an impactful form of robotics as we enter a extend beyond current conceptions of productivity and play, defined by intimate collaborations between people and machines, and a novel paradigm for human-computer interaction in which the interaction is with a machine that physically envelops people.

In more practical terms, the Architectural Robotics Lab has been developing fundamental research in morphing 2D robot surfaces for actively shaping and dividing physical spaces, as reported at IEEE IROS, ICRA, RO-MAN and CASE, ACM TE, and elsewhere (see publications below). The approach is foundational for robotics in offering completely new functionality, achieved via innovative physical realizations of robot surfaces.

We have focused our efforts on different actuators, both pneumatic (McKibben), tendon, and soft (slicone-base), also organizing them in the manner of textiles (i.e. woven and knitted). We aim to demonstrate the utility of these novel robot surfaces for two use cases of urgent social need (micro-homes and offices, and open-plan spaces).

Robot surfaces as envisioned in ride-share autonomous vehicles.

Robot Surfaces as envisioned in open-plan restaurants and cafes.


Ian D. Walker, Nithesh Kumar, and Keith E. Green. [Accepted.] Animated Surfaces for Novel Robot-Rooms (Poster), The 16th International Workshop on Human-Friendly Robotics (HFR 2023), Munich, Germany, September 2023.

Sirohi, R, Wang, Y., Hollenberg, S., Godage, I. S., Walker, I. D., and Green, K. E. 2019. Design and Characterization of a Novel, Continuum-Robot Surface for the Human Environment. In Proceedings of the 15th Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (IEEE CASE 2019), August 22-26, Vancouver, BC, pp. 1169 – 1174. [video]

Wang, Y. and Green, K. E. [In Press]. How Do We Want to Interact with Robotic Environments? User Preferences for Embodied Interactions, from Pushbuttons to AI. Book Chapter. In Robotic Building. ed.s Holger Schnädelbach, Henriette Bier, and Kristof Van Laerhoven. New York: Springer, pp. tbd.

G. Tan, H. Hidalgo, H. -L. Kao, I. D. Walker and K. E. Green. 2022. A Continuum Robot Surface of Woven, McKibben Muscles Embedded in and Giving Shape to Rooms, 2022 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Philadelphia, PA, USA, 2022, pp. 11432-11437, doi: 10.1109/ICRA46639.2022.9811987.

Wang, Y., Das, K., and Green, K. E. [2021]. Are Robots Perceived as Good Decision-Makers? Investigation of Trust & Preference of Robot Referees. Journal of Behavioral Robotics, vol 12, pp. 287-296. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pjbr-2021-0020. [video]

Green, K. E. 2022. Robots in the Room, Robots Are the Room: The Future of Robotics, Architectural Design, and Domestic Routine. Book Chapter. In The Routledge Companion to Ecological Design Thinking: Healthful Ecotopian Visions for Architecture and Urbanism. Routledge.

Y. Wang and K. Evan Green. 2022. Designing Socially Interactive, Robotic Environments through Pattern Languages. 2022 18th International Conference on Intelligent Environments (IE), Biarritz, France, 2022, pp. 1-8, doi: 10.1109/IE54923.2022.9826761.

Yixiao Wang and Keith Evan Green. 2021. Space Agency: A ‘Strong Concept’ for Designing Socially Interactive, Robotic Environments. In Social Robotics: 13th International Conference, ICSR 2021, Singapore, November 10–13, 2021, Proceedings. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, 295–307. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-90525-5_25

Wang, Y., Frazelle, C., Sirohi, C., Li, L., Walker, I. D., and Green, K. E. 2019. Design and Characterization of a Novel Robotic Surface for Application to Compressed Physical Environments. In Proceedings of the 2019 International Conference on Robotics and Automation ICRA 2019), May 20-24, Montreal, Canada, pp. 102-108. DOI: 10.1109/ICRA.2019.8794043

Wang, Y. and Green, K. E. 2019. A Pattern-Based, Design Framework for Designing “Collaborative Environments In Proceedings of TEI 2019, the Thirteenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interactions (TEI 2019). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 595-604. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3294109.3295652

Five configurations of the first SPACE AGENT prototype and our CASE'19 video.

Our woven, McKibben-actuated prototype and our ICRA'22 video & presentation.

figure for ART

Robot Surfaces as envisioned in home and clinic.