University of Southern California

USC Neuroscience

Maja J Mataric

Professor of Computer Science, Neuroscience, and Pediatrics
Vice Dean for Research, Viterbi School of Engineering
Director, Center for Robotics and Embedded Systems (CRES)
Co-Director, Robotics Research Lab

Research Topics

  1. Socially Assistive Human-Robot Interaction
  2. Therapeutic Hands-off Robotics for Rehabilitation, Social Skill Training, and Education
  3. Robotics for Stroke, Autism, Aging, and Dementia Intervention
  4. Learning through Interaction, Imitation, and Demonstration
  5. Activity Modeling

Research Overview

My research is aimed at endowing robots with the ability to help people. I am inspired by the dual goals of gaining novel insights into human-machine interaction and developing robotic systems capable of providing personalized assistance in convalescence, rehabilitation, training, and education contexts. My Interaction Lab focuses on socially assistive systems capable of aiding people through social interaction rather than through physical contact; we work with stroke patients, children with autism spectrum disorders, individuals suffering from dementia/Alzheimer's Disease, and healthy users across the age-span. Our research involves developing human-macine interaction (and in particular human-robot interaction, HRI) methods for enabling technology-assisated diagnosis, assessment, intervention, and/or therapy. This involves the study of embodiment, multi-modal activity understanding and communication, interaction steering, and long-term user modeling and adaptation, all with the goal of enabling interaction with real users in real-world (and thus complex, dynamic, and uncertain) environments such as health care facilities, schools, and homes. To address the inherently interdisciplinary challenges of this research, we draw on theories, models, and collaborations from neuroscience, cognitive science, social science, health sciences, and education.

My lab's projects focus on human-robot interaction (HRI) for socially assistive robotics (SAR). We study issues in embodiment, social monitoring and interaction steering, activity modeling, and learning through interaction, imitation and demonstration for long-term adaptation. Our projects involve algoritm and method development and evaluation with physical sensors and/or robots in user studies with participants from the relevant user populations, involving rigorous experimental design and evaluation.

Contact Information

Web Sites:
Main Page
Research Lab
Socially Assistive Robotics Research
Mailing Address:
650 McClintock Avenue, OHE 200
Los Angeles, CA 90089-1450 USA
Office Location:
Ronald Tutor Hall (RTH) 407
Office Phone:
(213) 740-4520
Lab Phone:
(213) 740-6245
(213) 821-5696


  • Ph.D., Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, MIT, 1994

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Selected Publications

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Feil-Seifer D.J and Mataric MJ. (2011) "Ethical Principles for Socially Assistive Robotics," IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, Special issue on Roboethics, Veruggio, J. Solis and M. Van der loos, 18(1):24-31.

Fasola, J, and Mataric MJ. (2010) "Robot Exercise Instructor: A Socially Assistive Robot System to Monitor and Encourage Physical Exercise for the Elderly." Proceedings, 19th IEEE International Symposium in Robot and Human Interactive Communication (Ro-Man 2010) Viareggio, Italy.

Tapus A, Tapus C, and Mataric MJ. (2009) "The Use of Socially Assistive Robots in the Design of Intelligent Cognitive Therapies for People with Dementia." Proceedings, International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR-09), Kyoto, Japan.

Tapus A, Tapus C, and Mataric MJ. (2008) "User-Robot Personality Matching and Assistive Robot Behavior Adaptation for Post-Stroke Rehabilitation Therapy." Intelligent Service Robotics Journal, Special Issue on Multidisciplinary Collaboration for Socially Assistive Robotics, A. Tapus, ed., 169-183.

Mataric MJ, Scassellati B, and Tapus A. (2007) The Grand Challenges in Socially Assistive Robotics. IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, 14(1).

Mataric MJ, Eriksson J, Feil-Seifer DJ, Winstein CJ. (2007) Socially Assistive Robotics for Post-Stroke Rehabilitation. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 4(5).

Gockley R, and Mataric MJ. (2006) Encouraging Physical TherapyCompliance with a Hands-Off Mobile Robot. 1st AnnualConference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI-06) Mar2-3, 150-155.

Mataric MJ (2006) Socially Assistive Robotics. IEEE IntelligentSystems, 21(4), Jul/Aug 2006, 81-83. 

Feil-Seifer D, and Mataric MJ (2005) Defining Socially Assistive Robotics. IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics(ICORR-05) Jun 28-Jun 1, 465-468.

Mataric MJ, Pomplun M. (1998) Fixation Behavior in Observation and Imitation of Human Movement. Cognitive Brain Research, 7(2), 191-202.