Social Robot Design Challenge Guidelines

Your team should:

  1. Follow the   human-centered design   process.
  2. Involve other students in your school or community.
  3. Document your process: take notes and pictures.
  4. Have fun!

Design requirements

When creating your design, you should answer the following questions.

  • How does it look?
  • How does it sound?
  • How does it help students with stress?
  • How is it unique.

Appearance: What does the robot look like?

You must design the robot so other people can get an idea of what it will look like. You can use any materials you choose. Cardboard boxes, poster board, wood, something you’ve found around. Consider the following questions:

  1. What does the robot look like?
  2. Does the robot have a face, body, arms and legs?
  3. How big is the robot?
  4. How will the robot move (it doesn’t have to move for this challenge, but what do you think you should keep in mind for your school?)
  5. In what ways can you be really creative and innovative in the ways the robot looks? What should be surprising, interesting, funny or cute?

Communication: What does the robot say and how does it show it’s listening?

How does the robot communicate with people in your school? You can use a script to show us how your robot would talk or how it would sound. There are several ways to create a robot voice using free   software  . Or you could have a team member do the robot voice and record it on a computer. 

When designing how your robot communicates, think about:

  1. Does the robot speak? What does it sound like?
  2. Does the robot make other noises or sounds? What do they sound like? When does it make these sounds?
  3. What does the robot sound like when it’s happy, sad, confused, listening?
  4. Think about animals or people, what ways do they show they are happy or sad? What sounds do they make?
  5. Tip: Bebop is a robot from a Podcast called Alien Adventures of Firm Caspian. Check out this episode where you can hear Bebop’s voice  . It’s a show for younger kids, but lots of good robot inspiration.

Helping students: How does the robot support teens with stress?

Part of the challenge of designing a social robot is to think about how to create a robot that helps teens deal with stress in their life. 

When designing your robot, think about:

  1. How does the robot help teens with stress?
  2. Does the robot ask questions?
  3. Does the robot provide advice or suggestions?
  4. How does the robot show it cares?

Uniqueness: How is the robot unique to your school?

We expect you to think specifically about how the robot you design is unique to your school environment. 

  1. Where does it live?
  2. Where does it go?
  3. How will it be kept safe?
  4. How does it serve the students in your school?

Constraints and timeline

  1. Each team can work on their robots from January to March 2018. You can spend as much or as little time as you have available to work on the designs. 
  2. The prototype must be portable and durable enough to present at the Showcase on March 24, 2018 on the UW Seattle campus. 
  3. Each team is given a budget of $300 for supplies. The total cost of the prototype cannot exceed that amount. 

Sharing your design at the Showcase

All participating schools are invited to attend  the Showcase  on March 24 from 3-5pm. The Showcase will be a fun afternoon of robots, demonstrations, guest judges, and food! Each school is required to:

  • Bring your robot
  • Bring a team of up to 6 people who will present and talk about the robot
  • Share your prototype, answer questions.
  • We will also be showing the short demo video that you have prepared that will introduce your social robot to the world!

Your robot and video will be viewed by the guests in attendance as well as our panel of experts.

A short video

Each team should prepare a short demonstration video. The video should:

  • Be between 3-5 minutes in length
  • Include sections for each step in the human-centered design process and what you learned during each step in your design. The steps are research, ideation, prototyping, testing, and iteration.
  • Show a demonstration or simulation of the robot so the audience can get a sense of the robot you have designed, including:
    • appearance
    • communication style
    • how it helps students with stress
    • and why it’s unique.
  • You can simulate the robot working in a number of different ways. It doesn’t have to look real, it should just give the audience a sense of who the robot is and how it might behave once it is built.
  • If you need help creating the video, let our team know. We are happy to help give you some tips or guidance.
  • Please submit your video by March 17 by sending a link to YouTube or Vimeo (or some other publicly accessible place). You can send the link to

Signed Consent/Photo Release Forms