Health and demographic change and the wellbeing of people is one of the societal challenges of our modern times.
With advanced Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), there are potentials to utilise technology to support active and healthy ageing, as well as provision of better access to healthcare services.
Research in the area of companion technology benefits from a dedicated Robot House with a range of activity sensors and robotic companions.
The Adaptive Systems research group has been involved in a large number of care and companion technology projects, with the most recent project ACCOMPANY, coordinated by Dr Amirabdollahian, focusing on different aspects of companion technology such as robot’s social interaction ability, its memory, its ability to detect activities and chores and ethical aspects of placing a robot as a human companion in a person’s home.
Researcher in adaptive systems research group have been involved in a large number of European and National projects related to this theme. Projects such as LIREC explored the design requirements of the future robot companions.
In project ACCOMPANY, this work progressed further towards eliciting design requirements and trialling different aspects of social interaction, activity monitoring and robot’s memory.
In project CORBYS, work involved cognitive control of a mobile robot assisting with gait rehabilitation with specific involvement of artificial intelligence for learning and reasoning, to enable the cognitive control. Work in this area includes projects on safety and trustworthiness.
Dr Amirabdollahian is involved as an expert consultant to British Standards, involved in development of safety standards for Robotics devices for home use (e.g. ISO13482:2014), as well as guidelines regarding ethical design and application of robots (BS8611_2016). The team is also involved in a national project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), concerning trustworthiness and safety of these systems (www.robotsafe.org).
With the changing demographic and longer life-spans, as well as increasing number of obese people due to less active life-styles, conditions such as stroke are more prevalent.
Technological interventions can provide a means to augment current rehabilitation approaches towards more informed and more personalised interventions. This is possible due to ability of better sense physiological outcomes, while robots provide a good interaction medium for encouraging physical activities.
Rehabilitation process can benefit from technological empowerments to inform on the clinical outcomes, but also to provide a medium to provide feedback to patients. It is believed that active involvement of patients in own therapy can be beneficial to meeting rehabilitation targets and therefore the active feedback can be a critical contributor to recovery process.
Robotic technology, for arm or hand/wrist rehabilitation has been a particular focus of the team at the University, where a number of European and National projects were conducted.
The GENTLE/G project focused on identifying the extent of contribution of individuals in their robot-mediate therapy. This resulted in PhD thesis of Dr Radhika Gudipati.
The SCRIPT project (scriptproject.eu) was a large European project led by Dr Amirabdollahian which focused on rehabilitation technology for personal home use after stroke. Alongside this project, PhD projects worked on home-assessment technology (Work of Mr Michael Bowler) including use of embedded reality Nine-Hole-Peg-Test rigs over distance as well as designing rehabilitation games (Dr Nauman Shah’s PhD topic).
Current projects include the GENTLE-EMG project which utilises EMG sensing in informing the therapeutic Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). Furthermore, research also progresses in utilising EEG sensing in detection of fatigue, during therapeutic HRI.