Design and Evaluation of a Unique Social Perception System for Human–Robot Interaction

Abolfazl Zaraki, Michael Pieroni, Danilo De Rossi, Daniele Mazzei, Roberto Garofalo, Lorenzo Cominelli, Maryam Banitalebi Dehkordi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Robot's perception is essential for performing high-level tasks such as understanding, learning, and in general, human-robot interaction (HRI). For this reason, different perception systems have been proposed for different robotic platforms in order to detect high-level features such as facial expressions and body gestures. However, due to the variety of robotics software architectures and hardware platforms, these highly customized solutions are hardly interchangeable and adaptable to different HRI contexts. In addition, most of the developed systems have one issue in common: they detect features without awareness of the real-world contexts (e.g., detection of environmental sound assuming that it belongs to a person who is speaking, or treating a face printed on a sheet of paper as belonging to a real subject). This paper presents a novel social perception system (SPS) that has been designed to address the previous issues. SPS is an out-of-the-box system that can be integrated into different robotic platforms irrespective of hardware and software specifications. SPS detects, tracks, and delivers in real-time to robots, a wide range of human- and environment- relevant features with the awareness of their real-world contexts. We tested SPS in a typical scenario of HRI for the following purposes: to demonstrate the system capability in detecting several high-level perceptual features as well as to test the system capability to be integrated into different robotics platforms. Results show the promising capability of the system in perceiving real world in different social robotics platforms, as tested in two humanoid robots, i.e., FACE and ZENO.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7534850
Pages (from-to)341-355
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Feature extraction
  • Robot sensing systems
  • Face recognition
  • Context awareness
  • Cameras
  • Human-robot interaction
  • Image analysis


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