Designing Multispecies Worlds for Robots, Cats, and Humans

Schneiders, Eike; Benford, Steve; Chamberlain, Alan; Mancini, Clara; Castle-Green, Simon; Ngo, Victor; Row Farr, Ju; Adams, Matt; Tandavanitj, Nick and Fischer, Joel (2024). Designing Multispecies Worlds for Robots, Cats, and Humans. In: Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’24), ACM, New York, NY, USA (Early Access).



We reflect on the design of a multispecies world centred around a bespoke enclosure in which three cats and a robot arm coexist for six hours a day during a twelve-day installation as part of an artist-led project. In this paper, we present the project’s design process, encompassing various interconnected components, including the cats, the robot and its autonomous systems, the custom end-effectors and robot attachments, the diverse roles of the humans-in-the-loop, and the custom-designed enclosure. Subsequently, we provide a detailed account of key moments during the deployment and discuss the design implications for future multispecies systems. Specifically, we argue that designing the technology and its interactions is not sufficient, but that it is equally important to consider the design of the ‘world’ in which the technology operates. Finally, we highlight the necessity of human involvement in areas such as breakdown recovery, animal welfare, and their role as audience.

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