There is growing need for robots that can interact safely with people in everyday situations. These robots have to be able to anticipate the effects of their own actions as well as the actions and needs of the people around them.

(Image courtesy of Fraunhofer IPA)

To achieve this, two streams of research need to merge, one concerned with physical systems specifically designed to interact with unconstrained environments and another focussing on control architectures that explicitly take into account the need to acquire and use experience.

The merging of these two areas has brought about the field of Cognitive Robotics. This is a multi-disciplinary science that draws on research in adaptive robotics as well as cognitive science and artificial intelligence, and often exploits models based on biological cognition.

Cognitive robots achieve their goals by perceiving their environment, paying attention to the events that matter, planning what to do, anticipating the outcome of their actions and the actions of other agents, and learning from the resultant interaction. They deal with the inherent uncertainty of natural environments by continually learning, reasoning, and sharing their knowledge.

A key feature of cognitive robotics is its focus on predictive capabilities to augment immediate sensory-motor experience. Being able to view the world from someone else's perspective, a cognitive robot can anticipate that person's intended actions and needs. This applies both during direct interaction (e.g. a robot assisting a surgeon in theatre) and indirect interaction (e.g. a robot stacking shelves in a busy supermarket).

In cognitive robotics, the robot body is more than just a vehicle for physical manipulation or locomotion: it is a component of the cognitive process. Thus, cognitive robotics is a form of embodied cognition which exploits the robot's physical morphology, kinematics, and dynamics, as well as the environment in which it is operating, to achieve its key characteristic of adaptive anticipatory interaction.


The Technical Committee exists to foster links between the fields of robotics, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. Our goal is to establish and promote the methodologies and tools required to make the field of cognitive robotics industrially and socially relevant.


As of February 18, 2022, the Technical Committee for Cognitive Robotics has 230 members, many of which are listed on the Members page.


The Ninth Annual Conference on Advances in Cognitive Systems will be held virtually onNovember 15 - 18, 2021.

Workshop on Cognitive and Social Aspects of Human Multi-Robot Interaction, IROS 2021- 2021 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2021), September 27.

Workshop on Semantic Policy and Action Representations for Autonomous Robots (SPAR), IROS 2021- 2021 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2021), September 27.

Open call: special issue on Semantic Policy and Action Representations for Autonomous Robots (SPAR), Journal of Robotics and Autonomous Systems, December 2021 to Feb 2022. 

"It’s (Still) Really Hard for Robots to Autonomously Do Household Chores", Evan Ackerman, IEEE Spectrum, 17 June 2021.

Virtual International Symposium on Cognitive Architecture (VISCA 2021), with videos and slides, including a session on robot cognitive architectures.

TransAIR Virtual Workshop on Cognitive Architectures for Robot Agents: Current Capabilities, Future Enhancements, and Prospects for Collaborative Development, from 22nd to 28th March, 2021.

Instructors: get your copy of the introductory course on cognitive robotics supported by the IEEE RAS CEMRA Program for Creation of Educational Material in Robotics and Automation.

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