Understanding and resolving failures in human-robot interaction: Literature review and model development

Shanee Honig, Tal Oron-Gilad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


While substantial effort has been invested in making robots more reliable, experience demonstrates that robots operating in unstructured environments are often challenged by frequent failures. Despite this, robots have not yet reached a level of design that allows effective management of faulty or unexpected behavior by untrained users. To understand why this may be the case, an in-depth literature review was done to explore when people perceive and resolve robot failures, how robots communicate failure, how failures influence people's perceptions and feelings toward robots, and how these effects can be mitigated. Fifty-two studies were identified relating to communicating failures and their causes, the influence of failures on human-robot interaction (HRI), and mitigating failures. Since little research has been done on these topics within the HRI community, insights from the fields of human computer interaction (HCI), human factors engineering, cognitive engineering and experimental psychology are presented and discussed. Based on the literature, we developed a model of information processing for robotic failures (Robot Failure Human Information Processing, RF-HIP), that guides the discussion of our findings. The model describes the way people perceive, process, and act on failures in human robot interaction. The model includes three main parts: (1) communicating failures, (2) perception and comprehension of failures, and (3) solving failures. Each part contains several stages, all influenced by contextual considerations and mitigation strategies. Several gaps in the literature have become evident as a result of this evaluation. More focus has been given to technical failures than interaction failures. Few studies focused on human errors, on communicating failures, or the cognitive, psychological, and social determinants that impact the design of mitigation strategies. By providing the stages of human information processing, RF-HIP can be used as a tool to promote the development of user-centered failure-handling strategies for HRIs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number861
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2018


  • Context
  • Failure
  • Human-robot interaction
  • Information processing
  • User-centered

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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