Research team from the Queen Mary University and the University College London is trying to develop interactive robots capable of caring for the elderly and sick.
Professor Peter McOwan is running the EU-funded four-year project involving specialists from seven countries.
"Our research aims to develop software, based on biology, that will allow robots to interact with humans in the most natural way, understanding things like personal space," the Daily Express quoted him as saying.
"These will be able to recognise human expressions and make expressive movements in response," he added.
"This technology could in future improve standards of hospital care which are facing the growing pressure of increasing demand."
The scientists have used psychologists to give instruction about polite social rules.
The robots are also being built with a set of instructions about body posture and personal space, which can be tailored, to individual people.
The study was presented at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.