My  qualifications and many years of work experience lie in two disciplines: Computer Science (since 1980) and Dance Movement Therapy (since 1992). I have completed my PhD research degree in the school of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire, bringing together my expertise and experience in these two disciplines.

My research, which started in 2002 in the Aurora Project, investigates the potential use of robots as therapeutic or educational 'toys' specifically for use by children with autism. The research focuses on ways that robotic systems can engage autistic children in simple interactive activities, with the aim of encouraging basic communication and social interaction skills.


Over the years, I was the team leader of the UH’s research team participated in the European FP6, FP7 & Horizon2020 projects IROMEC, ROBOSKIN and BabyRobot. The IROMEC project acknowledged the important role of play in child development and has investigated how robotic toys can empower children with cognitive, developmental, or physical impairments to discover the range of play styles from solitary to social and cooperative play.


In the ROBOSKIN project, using our humanoid robot Kaspar, the team has helped to develop cognitive mechanisms that use tactile feedback to improve human-robot interaction capabilities particularly in the application domain of robot assisted play for children with autism


The BabyRobot project focused on child-robot communication and collaboration, and developed the required technologies in order to develop specific socio-affective, communication and collaboration skills. Implementing these technologies on Kaspar, the team further developed Child-Robot Interaction Scenarios and run longitudinal studies specifically to assist children with autism in developing Visual Perspective Taking skills.  


My recent work, part of the Erasmus+ projects SMART and EMBOA, and the KASPAR project, further investigated robot-assisted therapy for children with autism with the humanoid robot Kaspar. The SMART project has developed and used intervention protocol where there is a synergy between a humanoid robot and a personal mobile device as a novel intervention tool for children with Autism. The project EMBOA- ‘Affective loop in Socially Assistive Robotics as an intervention for Children with Autism’, implemented and evaluated the feasibility of applying emotion recognition technologies in robot-supported intervention for children with autism. Within the KASPAR project, we have continued the investigation of robot assisted therapy in two main studies – ‘Kaspar Explain’ (KE) and Kaspar for Speech and Language therapy (SLC).


Kaspar Explain project - studied whether explicit causal explanations by the robot in robot assisted intervention can improve the Visual Perspective Taking (VPT ) skills of children with autism. Results identified multiple interaction categories where causal explanation by the robot contributed substantially to the children’s understanding of VPT.


The SLC study - Coupling the Kaspar research team’s experience with the expertise of speech and language communication specialists, we have conducted a thorough feasibility study examining how Kaspar can be used to support and provide SLC therapies to children with learning difficulties.


The news article, released by Reuters can be seen here. The video can be seen here.


Academic Interest:

·        Human Robot Interaction (HRI) with specific interest in the application of robotic systems in rehabilitation, therapy and education

·        Autism therapy

·        Dance Movement Therapy



Academic Qualifications:

1980 - Diploma ('HND' equivalent ) in Computing, Practical Engineering College, Negev University

1990 - BA Combined Studies, Majoring in Dance, Middlesex University

1992 - Post Graduate Diploma Dance Movement Therapy - St. Albans College of Art & Design

1998 - MSc Computer Science - University of Hertfordshire

2005 - PhD research degree  in Computer Science - University of Hertfordshire, Title: 'A humanoid Robot as assistive technology for Encouraging Social Interaction Skills in children with autism'.



Career History:


Dance Therapy and Dance in the Community activities (on part-time basis)


Scientific Publications:


Book Chapters:


Journal Articles:


Conference Proceedings:

·       Marcus M. Scheunemann, Kerstin Dautenhahn, Maha Salem, Ben Robins (2016) Utilizing Bluetooth Low Energy to Recognize Proximity, Touch and Humans. In 2016 25th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN) (pp. 362--367). 










·       Ester Ferari, Ben Robins, Kerstin Dautenhahn (2009) Therapeutic and educational objectives in Robot Assisted Play for children with autism.  18th IEEE International Workshop on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN 09) September 2009, Toyama, Japan


·       Ester Ferari, Ben Robins, Kerstin Dautenhahn (2009) Robot as a Social Mediator - a Play Scenario Implementation with Children with Autism. 8th international Conference on Interaction Design and Children,  IDC09 -Workshop on Creative Interactive Play for Disabled Children , Como,  Italy,     June  3-5  2009


·       Ben Robins, Kerstin Dautenhahn, Paul Dickerson, (2009) From Isolation to Communication: A Case Study Evaluation of Robot Assisted Play for Children with Autism with a Minimally Expressive Humanoid Robot, Proc. the Second International Conferences on Advances in Computer-Human Interactions, ACHI 09, February 1-7, 2009 - Cancun, Mexico

·       Josh Wainer, Kerstin Dautenhahn, Ben Robins (2008) Using robots to foster collaboration among groups of children with autism in an after-school class setting: An exploratory study. Proc. of 1st Workshop on Design for Social Interaction through Physical Play at the 2nd International conference on Fun and Games, 22-24f October 2008, Eindhoven, The Netherlands


·       Ben Robins, Ester Ferrari, Kerstin Dautenhahn (2008) Developing Scenarios for Robot Assisted Play. Proc. the 17th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, (RO-MAN 2008), 1-3 August 2008, Munich , Germany.


·       B. Robins, K. Dautenhahn, R. te Boekhorst, C. L. Nehaniv (2008) Behaviour Delay and Robot Expressiveness in Child-Robot Interactions: A User Study on Interaction Kinesics. Proc. ACM/IEEE 3rd International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI 2008). 12-15 March 2008, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


·       Serenella Besio, Silvia Dini,Ester Ferrari, Ben Robins (2007) Critical Factors Involved in Using Interactive Robots for Play Activities of Children with Disabilities Proc. The 9th European Conference for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (AAATE 2007) , 3-5 October, San-Sebastian, Spain.


·       Ben Robins, Nuno Otero, Ester Ferrari, Kerstin Dautenhahn (2007) Eliciting Requirements for a Robotic Toy for Children with Autism - Results from User Panels. Proc. the 16th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, (RO-MAN 2007), 26-29 August 2007, Jeju island, Korea.


·       Ben Robins, Kerstin Dautenhahn (2006) The Role of the Experimenter in HRI Research - a Case Study Evaluation of Children with Autism Interacting with a Robotic Toy. Proc. The 15th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN06), Haftield, UK.


·       Megan Davis , Ben Robins, Kerstin Dautenhahn, Christopher  Nehaniv Stuart Powell (2005), A comparison of interactive and robotic systems in therapy and education for children with autism. In proc. Assistive Technology from Virtuality to Reality - 8th European Conference for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe AAATE05, Lille , France , 6-9 September, 2005.


·       Ben Robins, Paul Dickerson, Penny Stribling and Kerstin Dautenhahn (2005), Robots as embodied beings - Interactionally sensitive body movements in interactions among autistic children and a robot. In proc. 14th IEEE International Workshop on Robot and Human Interactive Communication -RO-MAN05, Nashville , USA , 13-15 August 2005.


·       Ben Robins, Kerstin Dautenhahn, Janek Dubowsky (2005), Robots as Isolators or Mediators for Children with Autism? A Cautionary Tale, Proc. AISB05: Social Intelligence and Interaction in Animals, Robots and Agents, 12-15 April 2005, Hatfield, UK.


·       Ben Robins, Kerstin Dautenhahn, Rene te Boekhorst, Aude Billard (2004), Robots as Assistive Technology - Does Appearance Matter?, Proc. IEEE Ro-man 2004, 13th IEEE International Workshop on Robot and Human Interactive Communication September 20-22, 2004 Kurashiki , Okayama Japan. This paper won the best paper award at the 14th IEEE RO-MAN 2005 international workshop.


·       Ben Robins, Kerstin Dautenhahn, Janek Dubowski (2004), Investigating Autistic Children's Attitudes Towards Strangers with the Theatrical Robot - A New Experimental Paradigm in Human-Robot Interaction Studies, Proc. IEEE Ro-man 2004, 13th IEEE International Workshop on Robot and Human Interactive Communication September 20-22, 2004 Kurashiki, Okayama Japan.


·       Kerstin Dautenhahn, Iain Werry, Aude Billard, Ben Robins, Tamie Salter (2003), Robots That Autistic Children Can Play With Proc.The 7th international Congress Autism Europe Lisboa 2003. November 14-17 , 2003 Lisbon , Portugal .


·     Ben Robins, Kerstin Dautenhahn. (2004), Interacting with robots: Can we encourage social interaction skills in children with autism? ACM SIGACCESS Accessibility and Computing archive Issue 80, pp 6-12, ACM Press, New York, USA, September 2004.


Invited Talks & Other Academic Activities:



Media Coverage: