Designing Robots to Help Women


  • Martin Cooney
  • Lena M Widin Klasén
  • Fernando Alonso-Fernandez



Robots are being designed to help people in an increasing variety of settings--but seemingly little attention has been given so far to the specific needs of women, who represent roughly half of the world's population but are underrepresented in robotics. Here we used a speculative prototyping approach to explore this expansive design space: First, we identified some challenges that disproportionately affect women in relation to crime, health, and daily activities, as well as opportunities for designers, which were visualized in five sketches. Then, one of the sketched scenarios was further explored by developing a prototype, of a drone equipped with computer vision to detect hidden cameras that could be used to spy on women. While object detection introduced some errors, hidden cameras were identified with a reasonable accuracy of 80% (Intersection over Union (IoU) score: 0.40). Our aim is that these results could help spark discussion and inspire designers, toward realizing a safer, more inclusive future through responsible use of technology.