Matt Rueben

Post-Doctoral Scholar | Interaction Lab | University of Southern California

Education:Oregon State University Ph.D. Robotics in the Personal Robotics Group
Oregon State University H.B.S. Mechanical Engineering
Me on:Google Scholar


I am a scholar doing research on human-robot interaction. Right now I work as a post-doc in the USC Interaction Lab directed by Prof. Maja Matarić. I received the Ph.D. in Robotics from Oregon State University in 2018 for a dissertation about privacy in human-robot interaction. My advisor was Prof. Bill Smart. I also worked extensively with Prof. Frank Bernieri from the School of Psychological Science. My undergraduate studies were also at OSU—I received the H.B.S. Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2013.

My goal is for robots to respect human social values; so far I have focused on privacy. My current research is about how humans form mental models of a robot's perceptual capabilities, and how the robot can model this process and then act to influence it. A robot should help humans accurately understand what personal information it is recording.

Research Interests

Human-Robot Interaction, Privacy Protection, Ethics of Robotics

Current Work

Estimating and Influencing User Mental Models of a Robot’s Perceptual Capabilities: People develop mental models of robots to improve their interactions with them, but predictions from these models are not always accurate. Robots often fail to communicate their capabilities, especially perceptual capabilities—i.e., what they can sense and understand about the world. This project represents pioneering work towards enabling robots to autonomously estimate and influence human beliefs about robot perceptual capabilities. A custom-designed, web-based game is being used to establish feasibility and build computational models of how the user's mental model develops.

Telepresence Robots for Homebound K-12 Students: Many students must stay home from school for prolonged periods of time because of illness, disability, or other reasons. These students might get instruction at home, but miss out on both the normal social interactions and the full learning experience at school. In this project we are deploying telepresence robots in high schools whereby homebound students can attend school for weeks at a time. We will study the effect of this new situation on social interactions and develop algorithms that improve student outcomes.

Privacy-Sensitive Robotics: Robots present a new concern for personal privacy: not only can a remote operator see through the robot's video cameras, but he or she can also drive the robot, potentially so as to view private objects against the owner's wishes. Our group is studying how people think about privacy around robots. Our scope goes beyond personal information to include proxemics, territory, and feelings of crowding or "being watched."

Past Work

Shared Autonomy Interfaces for Using Household Appliances: Robots can help people around the house by operating appliances: washing mashines, microwaves, light switches, or even television sets. Thus far, this project has yielded interfaces through which a human can help the robot locate knobs, light switches, and push-buttons on a device, after which the robot can actuate the controls autonomously. In the future, this work could be extended by building large, semantic maps of the robot's environment to help the robot do useful tasks on its own.


[1] Matthew Rueben, Jeffrey Klow, Madelyn Duer, Eric Zimmerman, Jennifer Piacentini, Madison Browning, Frank J. Bernieri, Cindy M. Grimm, and William D. Smart. Mental models of a mobile shoe rack: Exploratory findings from a long-term, in-the-wild study. ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction (THRI), 2020. In Review. [ bib ]
[2] Jeffrey Klow, Jordan Proby, Matthew Rueben, Ross T Sowell, Cindy M Grimm, and William D Smart. Privacy, utility, and cognitive load in remote presence systems. In International Conference on Social Robotics, pages 730–739. Springer, 2019. [ bib ]
[3] Matthew Rueben, Alexander Mois Aroyo, Christoph Lutz, Johannes Schmölz, Pieter Van Cleynenbreugel, Andrea Corti, Siddharth Agrawal, and William D Smart. Themes and research directions in privacy-sensitive robotics. In 2018 IEEE Workshop on Advanced Robotics and its Social Impacts (ARSO), pages 77–84. IEEE, 2018. [ bib ]
[4] Matthew Rueben, Cindy M Grimm, Frank J Bernieri, and William D Smart. A taxonomy of privacy constructs for privacy-sensitive robotics. 2017. arXiv:1701.00841v1 [cs.CY]. [ bib | .pdf ]
[5] Matthew Rueben, Frank J Bernieri, Cindy M Grimm, and William D Smart. Framing effects on privacy concerns about a home telepresence robot. In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, pages 435–444. ACM, 2017. [ bib | http ]
[6] Margot E Kaminski, Matthew Rueben, William D Smart, and Cindy M Grimm. Averting robot eyes. Md. L. Rev., 76:983, 2017. Nominated for the Future of Privacy Forum's Privacy Papers for Policymakers Award.bib ]
[7] Matthew Rueben and William D Smart. Privacy in human-robot interaction: Survey and future work. In We Robot 2016: the Fifth Annual Conference on Legal and Policy Issues relating to Robotics. University of Miami School of Law, 2016. Discussant: Ashkan Soltani, Independent Researcher. [ bib | .pdf ]
[8] Leo Bowen-Biggs, Suzanne Dazo, Yili Zhang, Alexander Hubers, Matthew Rueben, Ross Sowell, William D Smart, and Cindy M Grimm. A method for establishing correspondences between hand-drawn and sensor-generated maps. In Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR), pages 1003–1013. Springer, 2016. [ bib ]
[9] Matthew Rueben, Frank J Bernieri, Cindy M Grimm, and William D Smart. Evaluation of physical marker interfaces for protecting visual privacy from mobile robots. In Proceedings of the 25th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO–MAN 2016), pages 787–794. IEEE, 2016. [ bib | http ]
[10] Alexander Hubers, Emily Andrulis, Levi Scott, Tanner Stirrat, Ruonan Zhang, Ross Sowell, Matthew Rueben, Cindy M Grimm, and William D Smart. Using video manipulation to protect privacy in remote presence systems. In Social Robotics, Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Social Robotics, pages 245–254. Springer, 2015. [ bib ]
[11] Matthew Rueben and William D Smart. Shared autonomy perception and manipulation of physical device controls. In Proceedings of the Eleventh International Symposium on Visual Computing (ISVC), pages 830–841. Springer, 2015. [ bib ]
[12] Matthew Rueben, Daniel T Cox, Rob A Holman, Sungwon Shin, and John Stanley. Optical Measurements of Tsunami Inundation and Debris Movement in a Large-Scale Wave Basin. Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal, and Ocean Engineering, 2014. Named a 2015 Outstanding Paper by this journal. [ bib ]
[13] Matthew Rueben, Rob A Holman, Daniel T Cox, Sungwon Shin, Jason Killian, and John Stanley. Optical measurements of tsunami inundation through an urban waterfront modeled in a large-scale laboratory basin. Coastal Engineering, 58(3):229–238, March 2011. [ bib ]
[14] Kerri Bridges, Daniel Cox, Seth Thomas, Sungwon Shin, and Matthew Rueben. Large-scale wave basin experiments on the influence of large obstacles on tsunami inundation forces. In Proc. of the 6th International Conference on Coastal Structures, in Japan, pages D1–D114. World Scientific, 2011. [ bib ]

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Last updated Feb 1, 2020.