Saad Elbeleidy and Terran Mott and Dan Liu and Ellen Do and Elizabeth Reddy and Tom Williams
Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction (Computer-Supported Cooperative Work)
Socially assistive robots play an effective role in children’s therapy and education. Robots engage children and provide interaction that is free of the potential judgment of human peers and adults. Research in socially assistive robots for children generally focuses on therapeutic and educational outcomes for those children, informed by a vision of autonomous robots. This perspective ignores therapists and educators, who operate these robots in practice. Through nine interviews with individuals who have used robots to deliver socially assistive services to neurodivergent children, we (1) define a dual-cycle model of therapy that helps capture the domain expert view of therapy, (2) identify six core themes of teleoperator needs and patterns across these themes, (3) provide high-level guidelines and detailed recommendations for designing teleoperated socially assistive robot systems, and (4) outline a vision of robot-assisted therapy informed by these guidelines and recommendations that centers teleoperators of socially assistive robots in practice.