Thesis Work

Ongoing Ph.D. Thesis: “Expressive Motion for Low Degree-of-Freedom Robots.” Carnegie Mellon University, Robotics Institute, conducted under Professor Reid Simmons. Estimated Completion: August 2016.

M.S. Thesis: “Real-time Social Touch Gesture Recognition.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, conducted under Professor Cynthia Breazeal, May 2008.

Journal Articles

Knight, H. “Design and Policy Considerations of Human-Robot Partnerships.” The Robots are Coming: Series on Civilian Robotics. Brookings Institute, July 2014. View Online | Download PDF

Knight, H. “Eight Lessons learned about Non-verbal Interactions through Robot Theater.” Social Robotics. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2011. 42-51. Download PDF

Conference Papers

Knight, H and Simmons, R. “Communicating with Simple Motions: Laban Effort Legibility Across Two Robots and Two Tasks.” Under review for International Conference on Robots and Intelligent Systems (IROS ‘15), October 2015 in Hamburg, Germany. (under review)

Knight, H, Veloso, M. and Simmons, R. “Taking Candy from a Robot: Speed Features and Candy Accessibility Predict Human Response.” Under review for International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (Ro-Man ‘15), September 2015 in Kobe, Japan. (under review)

Knight, H and Simmons, R. “Expressive Motion with X, Y and Theta: Laban Effort Features for Mobile Robots.” In Proceedings of International Symposium Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN ‘14), August 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Download PDF

Knight, H. and Simmons, R. “Estimating Human Interest and Attention via Gaze Analysis.” In Proceedings International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA ‘13), May 2013 in Karlsruhe, Germany. Download PDF

Knight, H., Toscano, R., Steele, W. D., Chang, A., Wang, Y. and Breazeal, C. “Real-time Touch Gesture Recognition for a Sensate Robot.” In Proceedings of International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS ’09), October 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri. Download PDF

Harvey, A. and Knight, H. “Anti-Paparazzi Fashion.” In Proceedings of the International Symposium on Wearable Computing (ISWC ’09), September 2009 in Linz, Austria. Download PDF

Knight, H, Lee, J. and Ma, H. “Chair Alarm for Patient Fall Prevention based on Gesture Recognition and Interactivity” In Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC ’08), August 2008 in Vancouver, Canada. Download PDF

Extended Abstracts

Knight, H and Simmons, R. “Layering Laban Effort Features on Robot Task Motions.” Late Breaking Report at International Conference on Human Robot Interaction (HRI ‘15), March 2015 in Portland, Oregon. Download PDF

Knight, H., Simmons, R.. “Designing an Expressive Motion System for a Robot that Needs Your Help” Extended Abstract for Women in Robotics Workshop at the International Conference on Robotics, Science and Systems (RSS ‘14), July 2014 in Berkeley, California. Download PDF

Knight, H. “Acting Lesson with Robot: Emotional Gestures” Video for the International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, March 2012, in Boston, Massachusetts. Download PDFView Video

Knight, H. and Simmons, R. “Tracking Aggregate vs. Individual Gaze Behaviors during a Robot-led Tour Simplifies overall Engagement Estimates” Late Breaking Report for the International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, March 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. Download PDF

Knight, H. “Devilishly Charming Robots and Charismatic Machines.” HRI Young Pioneers poster for the International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, March 2011, Lausanne, Switzerland. Download PDF

Knight, H., Divvala, S. and Satkin, S. “A Savvy Robot Standup Comic: Realtime Learning through Audience Tracking” Work-in-progress paper for the International Conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction (TEI ’11), January 2011, in Funchal, Portugal. Download PDF

Knight, H., Chang, A., Steele, W. D., Toscano, R. Wang, Y. and Breazeal, C. “Robot Design Rubrics for Social Gesture Categorization and User Studies with Children.” Presented in Workshop on How to Integrate Social Robots into Society at the International Conference on Human Robot Interaction (HRI ’09), March 2009 in San Diego, California. Download PDF

H. Knight. “A Short History of Artificial Intelligence, A Student Perspective: CSAIL/NSF” Summary created as part of an National Science Foundation Grant to archive MIT’s Early Artificial Intelligence research, through films, interviews and independent research. Link to Website


The Robot Film Festival: an annual short-film festival (2011-2014) celebrating robot storytelling on screen in New York and San Francisco. Founded and directed by Heather Knight, co-produced with Marek Michalowski, Bot&Dolly, and Chrys Wu. Website

The Cyborg Cabaret: a one-off variety show featuring human performers, robotics and technology on stage. It took place at the New Hazlett Theater on April 27, 2012 in Pittsburgh, PA with support from the Carnegie Mellon School of Art. Directed by Heather Knight and Dan Wilcox. Event video

Silicon Comedy: a robot comedy performance created for TED-Women 2010 with over 600,000 views. Featuring Data the Robot and Heather Knight. TED Talk

This Too Shall Pass (Rube-Goldberg Machine): A VMA-winning music video featuring a Rube-Goldberg machine that we (Synnlabs) created for the band OK GO in 2010. Video.

Stardust: installation at the 2009 International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence, performing cell-phone tracking to control comets on a large projection display. Created by Dan Goods, Adam Harvey and Heather Knight for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Photos.

The Cloud: an interactive sculpture with over 15,000 individually addressable optical fibers created by the MIT Mobile Experience Lab (where I interned) and installed at the Fortezza de Basso in Florence, Italy for the summer of 2008. Video.

Cyberflora: an interactive robotic flower garden installed at Smithsonian-Cooper Hewitt Design Museum as part of their Fall 2003 Design Triennial. Created by Jeff Lieberman, Heather Knight, Dan McNaulty, Blake Brasher and Cynthia Breazeal. Video.

Public Anenome: an interactive robot installation displayed in the Emerging Technologies exhibit at the 2002 SIGGRAPH conference. Created by the students of Cynthia Breazeal’s Personal Robotics group at the MIT Media Lab. Paper.

Additional Press

Fast Company : The League of Extraordinary Nerds 1/2011

Article on

New Scientist Magazine: Robothespians, 12/2010

Magazine Pages |

Technology Review: World’s First Robot Census 10/2010

Article on

Additional Video

Motherboard Interview @ Harvard Humanity+ Summit, 6/2010

Link to Video

Ignite Talk: The Rise of Charismatic Machines 7/2009

Link to Video