Invited Speakers

Professor Luc de Witte

Professor of Technology for Health Care, Technology for Health Care Group, The Hague University of Applied Sciences.

Talk title: The problematic marriage between care and technology.

In this presentation Luc will discuss the tensions between care and technology. The need for innovation and smart use of technology in health and social care is increasing and the possibilities of technology are increasing as well, but it is not easy to match these needs with these possibilities. Many barriers need to be traversed or minimised to make technology work in health and social care practice. This will be discussed with a focus on care robotics

Professor Luc de Witte trained as a medical doctor, but has always worked on practice oriented research in the field of rehabilitation and long term care, including elderly care, care for people with mental or physical disabilities and care for people with chronic diseases. Luc has been involved in a large number of research and development projects. They all had a practice oriented character and aimed to generate knowledge to support care practice and policy. Main themes in his research are: assistive technology service delivery, development and evaluation of e-health applications, care robotics, technology-supported care innovations for low resource settings. His work is largely international. He is president of the Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Organisations (GAATO) and active board member of the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (AAATE).

Professor Tomohiro Shibata

Professor of Graduate School of Life Science and Systems Engineering, Kyutech, Japan

Talk title: Assistive Technologies (from ICT to AAR)

Prof Shibata's talk will cover the evolution of assistive technologies, from ICT to Assistive Robotics, focussing on how linking their design and development to real-world contexts, and end-user and carer needs results in innovative and impactful systems. He will cover his research over the years, addressing the key barriers and challenges in deploying assistive technology solutions. 

IROS Workshop Tom.mp4

Prof Shibata is leading cutting edge research in the Department of Human Intelligence Systems Engineering, Graduate School of Life Science and Systems Engineering, at the Kyushu Institute of Technology.  After working as a researcher at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, a researcher at the Japan Science and Technology Agency, and an associate professor at the Graduate School of Information Science at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology. He is a member of IEEE, Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers, Neural Network Society of Japan, Robotics Society of Japan, Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers, The Robotics Society, Society of Nursing Science and Technology, and Seiwa Scholars Society.

Nigel Harris

Visiting Professor, University of the West of England, and the Department of Health at the University of Bath 

Talk title: Barriers and opportunities for adoption of robotics in healthcare

Along with many other developed nations, the UK National Health Service (NHS), is struggling to cope with increased demands of an ageing population, with reduced financial and human resources.  Technology, and in particular robotics, has the potential to mitigate the impact of this, with a wide range of applications that include; medicines management, infection control, logistics and rehabilitation. Aside from regulatory and safety barriers, the NHS, and clinical professionals in general. are often reluctant to adopt new technology. This is often due to the lack of clear evidence for cost or clinical benefit, but there may also be organisational and professional barriers. In this presentation we will explore these themes in more detail and see what we can learn from examples where of successful technology adoption.


Prof Nigel Harris has a background in Medical Physics, with more than 25years experience of clinical research in the UK National Health Service. As CEO of the charity Designability, he has had first-hand experience of developing and testing assistive and enabling technologies. More recently, as Director of Innovation and Growth with West of England Academic Health Science Network, he worked with a with range innovators, supporting the development, scale up and adoption of novel technologies. He is currently a visiting Professor with the Faculty of Engineering and Technology at the University of the West of England, and the Department of Health at the University of Bath. 

Dr. Brokoslaw Laschowski

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada 

Talk title: Design and Control of Wearable Robotics for Real-World Applications  

In this talk, Dr. Laschowski will present research from his lab on the design and control of wearable robotic exoskeletons for movement assistance (e.g., for older adults and/or persons with physical disabilities) and augmentation (e.g., for healthcare professionals and caregivers). With regards to design, they use lightweight and energy-efficient backdriveable actuators to extend battery-powered operating times and for safe human-robot physical interactions. His lab also uses open-source 3D-printed designs to improve accessibility and minimize cost. With regards to control, they use computer vision and deep learning artificial intelligence to adapt to changes in real-world walking environments in order to improve autonomous control and decision-making. 

Dr. Brokoslaw Laschowski is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto working in the Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Laboratory. He also holds an affiliation with the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Rehabilitation Lab at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. As a research scientist, he specializes in the design and control of wearable robotic systems and technologies. Applications of his research include rehabilitation robotics, neural engineering, human-computer interaction, and assistive technology like robotic prosthetic legs and exoskeletons. His clinical research focuses on assisting individuals with mobility impairments due to aging and/or physical disabilities. His research also includes the design and integration of sensory feedback systems (e.g., smart glasses and haptics) for persons with visual impairments. Overall, he develops technologies that interface with humans in order to improve health and performance. 

Professor Filippo Cavallo

Professor in Biomedical Robotics, Head of BioRobotics Lab, Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Florence, Via Santa Marta, 3, 50139, Florence

Talk title: Personal Care Robots for frailty and neurodegenerative diseases 

There are a range of scientific and technological challenges concerning social robotics, human robot interaction, wearable sensors, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence for robot companion and healthcare applications, specially when used to support people with frailty and neurodegenerative diseases. Prof Cavallo's talk will cover the significance of co-design with healthcare professionals in ensuring usability, acceptance and adoption of these technologies. 

Prof Filippo Cavallo (M.Sc. degree in EE and the Ph.D. degree in bioengineering) is Associate Professor of Biomedical Robotics with the Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Florence, Italy. The objectives of his research activities are to promote and evaluate novel service robotics for active and healthy ageing, and to identify and validate disruptive healthcare paradigms for neurodegenerative and chronic diseases, focusing on prevention and support for physical and cognitive declines. He has participated in various national and European projects and is the author of various papers on conferences and ISI journals. 

In addition, we have invited a number of specialists researchers and domain experts to contribute to the small group sessions (see the Programme Tab to view their talks). 

Dr. Praveen Kumar

Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy, UWE Bristol, UK