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Session Overview
04-02: Charles Colby
Friday, 19/Jul/2019:
3:15pm - 3:40pm

Seminar Room 2-2

Chair: Bertil A. Brandin

Best Practitioner Presentation Finalist

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Service Robots: Trends in Acceptance and Factors behind Readiness to Adopt

Authors: Charles Colby (Rockbridge Associates, Inc., USA), Sunil Mithas (University of South Florida (On Leave: Robert H. Smith School of Business)), A. Parasuraman (University of Miami)

Robots that perform services or are used in services businesses are promising technologies that are already shaping the world. This presentation on service robots is a continuation of research shared at Frontiers in 2016 and includes trending data and new insights. We define “robots” as technology that can perform physical tasks, operate autonomously without needing instruction, and are directed by computers without help from people (i.e., artificial intelligence). Examples of robotic services covered in past research and the current effort include interacting with a robotic server at a restaurant, having manual housework performed by a robotic servant, owning a self-driving vehicle, riding in a taxi cab without a driver, and receiving a package delivered by air by a pilotless drone. In this latest research, we also included a social robot that fills requests like making recommendations or taking pictures. This presentation shares trends from the U.S. market on consumer acceptance of robotic services from 2015 to 2018. An additional goal of the research is to test a new method for gauging technology acceptance that mirrors the theoretical framework behind the Technology Readiness Index 2.0 by Parasuraman and Colby (2015). After first testing this acceptance instrument in 2015, we made improvements in 2018 that have resulted in greater scale reliability and show promise for measuring acceptance in other technology-based service contexts.

The presentation will reveal interesting topline findings on general acceptance of robotics in addition to a causal analysis of factors behind acceptance, including perceptions of positive and negative consequences of robots, technology readiness, and demographics. Our study shows, for instance, that consumer acceptance of robotic services correlates highly with perceptions that equate with robotic optimism (increased productivity and control), robotic innovativeness (first to adopt and interest in learning about robots), robotic comfort (easy to make them work, anyone can use them), and perceptions robots are safe. Acceptance of robots and robotic services correlates with technology readiness, measured by the TRI 2.0 scale, particularly the “motivating dimensions’ of optimism and innovativeness.

The basis for our study is the 2015 and 2018 National Technology Readiness Survey waves, conducted by Rockbridge Associates, Inc., A. Parasuraman, and sponsored by Center for Excellence at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and Intuit. The 2018 survey includes a representative sample of 1,053 U.S. adults.


Colby, C. L., Mithas, S., and Parasuraman, A. 2016. "Service Robotics: How Ready are Consumers to Adopt and What Drives Acceptance?," Frontiers in Service Conference (June 23-26), T.W. Andreassen, E. Breivik and R.T. Rust (eds.), Bergen, Norway.

Parasuraman, A., and Colby, C. L. 2015. "An Updated and Streamlined Technology Readiness Index: TRI 2.0," Journal of Service Research (18:1), pp. 59-74.

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