Robot transparency: Improving understanding of intelligent behaviour for designers and users

Published in Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems: 18th Annual Conference, TAROS 2017, Guildford, UK, 2017

Recommended citation: Wortham, R. H., Theodorou, A., & Bryson, J. J. (2017). Improving robot transparency: real-time visualisation of robot AI substantially improves understanding in naive observers. Gao Y., Fallah S., Jin Y., Lekakou C. (eds) Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems. TAROS 2017. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10454 (Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence; Vol. 10454). Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-64107-2_22

[Open access]


Autonomous robots can be difficult to design and understand. Designers have difficulty decoding the behaviour of their own robots simply by observing them. Naive users of robots similarly have difficulty deciphering robot behaviour simply through observation. In this paper we review relevant robot systems architecture, design, and transparency literature, and report on a programme of research to investigate practical approaches to improve robot transparency. We report on the investigation of real-time graphical and vocalised outputs as a means for both designers and end users to gain a better mental model of the internal state and decision making processes taking place within a robot. This approach, combined with a graphical approach to behaviour design, offers improved transparency for robot designers. We also report on studies of users’ understanding, where significant improvement has been achieved using both graphical and vocalisation transparency approaches.

Past version:

Wortham, R. H., Theodorou, A., & Bryson, J. J. (2017). Robot transparency: improving understanding of intelligent behaviour for designers and users. Towards Autonomous Robotic System (TAROS) 2017. Guildford, UK