Robots and Digital Agents in Health and Wellbeing Settings

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Professor Daniel Johnson
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Increasingly digital agents and robots are playing a role in our health care system. Key questions remain about how people respond to non-human entities in health settings. This program of research aims to explore a range of issues in this space:
  • When do people treat agents and robots as though they are human?
  • Which topics are people comfortable disclosing to digital agents and robots?
  • What features of digital agents and robots make them feel more trustworthy, friendly, believable, etc?

Research activities

These would vary depending on the background and expertise of the students but could include:
VRES level and beyond
  • literature reviews of the existing research in the field
  • programming digital agents and robots to present health and wellbeing related information
  • creating materials and running experiments
  • interpreting results and writing papers.
Masters level and beyond
  • building robots to effectively interact with humans and deliver mental health and wellbeing advice and information.
Successful applicants will work closely with the Robotics and Autonomous System team, as well as the CHI Games Lab team. Both have a highly collegiate culture and students working on projects could expect to welcomed as part of the team.


The project aims and outcomes include:
  • building understanding of how to effectively deploy digital agents and robots to have a positive impact in the mental health and wellbeing space
  • constructing objects and artefacts that can be used in a series of studies to better understand human-robot interaction
  • the creation of new algorithms and techniques (e.g., natural language processing) to improve human-robot interaction.

Skills and experience

The background of the student would inform which aspects of the project they would be invited to consider. However relevant skills include:
  • literature review
  • programming (particularly python and C++)
  • experimental design and analysis
  • basic understanding of robotic systems.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.