Applied Social Robotics

Course code
Course fee (excl. housing)
Course Level
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Are you interested in how social robots can be implemented in daily life, for example in education, in healthcare, and in hospitality? Do you want to come up with innovative solutions for long time societal problems? And do you think robots can be part of these solutions? Then this summer school is designed for you!  During this summer school, you will work in a multidisciplinary research team and learn how people interact with robots, how to design social robots, how to set up a human-robot experiment. You and your teammates come from various fields such as psychology, social work, education, healthcare, engineering, media, IT, communication, and business. All of you will bring specific knowledge from your field and together you will find creative ways to utilise these skills. Combining your strengths will give you the opportunity to come up with and design new solutions in the field of social robots.

In this course, both theoretical background and hands-on experience on Social Robotics will be provided. Knowledge about essential theories, concepts, principles, and tooling will be addressed. This knowledge enables the students to design and experiment with applying Social Robotics in a responsible way.

After the course, the student is able to:

  • explain and select various design methods applicable to social robots in several domains;
  • apply various design methods applicable to social robots in several domains, and thereby can design a social robot for a specific scenario;
  • present a social robot scenario to an academic/ professional audience;
  • explain the basic theories, concepts, and principles related to the domain of human-robot interaction;
  • critically describe how the design (e.g. embodiment and anthropomorphism) of a social robot influences how humans interact with robots;
  • build/configure a social robot for a specific purpose within a domain, such as education, healthcare, or hospitality;
  • set up an experiment to assess the effect of a social robot;
  • analyze and explain experimental data results;
  • present a project using a scientific minipaper.

Important: we aim to provide this course on-site at the HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht Science Park campus. However, we are also prepared to switch to online-only mode when governmental restrictions are introduced or in place because of the current Covid-19 pandemic. Due to this uncertain situation, we will announce the approach and interaction forms concerning this course at a later stage in 2022 (June-July).

Day-to-day programme (PDF)
Course director
Ing. Matthijs Smakman, MA & dr. ing. Koen Smit


  •  Ing. Matthijs Smakman, MA
  •  Dr. ing. Koen Smit
  •  Sam Leewis, MSc
  •  Matthijs Berkhout, MSc
  •  John van Meerten, BSc


Target audience

Students and professionals who are interested in Social Robots and how to design and apply them in practice. Although a technical background or expertise is not required, affinity with and interest in technology is recommended for this course. The level of difficulty of the course is bachelor/advanced bachelor.

This course can both be followed standalone or in addition to the Digital Ethics course, which is provided the following week from 22-08-2022/26-08-2022 also by the HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht.

Aim of the course

Provide course members with insights and practical experience on Applied Social Robotics by addressing Design Methods for Social Robots, Human-Robot Interaction, and a project in which you need to design and demonstrate a Social Robot to tackle one or more societal challenges. 

Study load

5 days, 6-8 contact hours per day, 1-2 self-study hours per day.


Course fee:
Fee covers
Course + course materials
Housing fee:
Housing cost
Housing provider:
Utrecht Summer School


For this course you are required to upload the following documents when applying:

Motivation Letter

More information

Ing. Matthijs Smakman, MA



Application deadline: 
Registration deadline
01 July 2022