The main objective of RoboCivics is to create new scientific knowledge about interaction models of persuasive social robots that can motivate youth to civic participation. The results of RoboCivics will help youth become more active societally and support designers in creation of acceptable designs in the future society populated with social robots.


Social robots have been studied extensively in the past two decades, but no large-scale co-design studies have been conducted for design-relevant interaction models of persuasive robots. In RoboCivics, we focus our research on two areas where major scientific advances are expected:

  • Understanding how persuasive techniques can be used with social robots in their interaction with the youth.
  • Gaining insights of how social robots can be used for digital civics.

RoboCivics investigates a novel combination of robots and persuasion in civic participation in sustainable development. Our aim is to take digital civics to where the youth are, and make participation opportunities visible and inviting through embodied, persuasive social robots.


The main goal of RoboCivics is to create new scientific knowledge about interaction models of persuasive social robots that can motivate and facilitate youth (15-24 years) to civic participation.

In the research, we co-design robots with the youth and conduct empirical user trials both with existing social robots and with the prototypes developed based on the youth’s designs. The user trials take place in real contexts of use such as youth spaces, schools and shopping centres. We will also conduct a long-term user trial (6 months) to gain understanding of long-term user experience of the robots.

Examples of potential areas of sustainable development that can be addressed with the youth are local urban planning, sustainable travel and social inclusion.


The main scientific result of RoboCivics is the theoretical framework that consists of the interaction models and the design space of persuasive social robots. The specific scientific impacts are the following:

  • Setting a reliable basis for research on social robots for civic participation.
  • Establishing the theoretical ground for conducting further studies and for guiding the design of persuasive social robots.
  • Establishing a model of long-term user experience of social robots.


RoboCivics is funded by Academy of Finland. The duration of the project is 1.9.2019 – 31.8.2023.


Our collaboration partners include national partners such as city of Tampere, University of Lapland and local companies, and international research groups in Newcastle University (UK) and TU Eindhoven (the Netherlands).


  • Digital civics studies how citizens can participate digitally in the co-production of knowledge together with stakeholders, e.g. authorities (Olivier and Wright, 2015).
  • Persuasive robots are embodied agents that “are intentionally designed to change a person’s behavior, attitudes, and/or cognitive processes” (Ham & Midden, 2014).