IROS 2022 Workshop

Half-day workshop: 23rd October 2022

The Empowering Future Care Workforces project and the UKRI EMERGENCE Network are hosting a special half-day workshop at IROS 2022 in Kyoto, Japan, an important global meeting place of robotics researchers, developers and manufacturers. The workshop will take place on October 23rd, a day before the main conference kicks off. To apply to be part of the workshop and to review important dates, click here.

Workshop: Assistive robots in the real world

Supporting health care professional to leverage autonomous assistive devices

Deploying robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) in care that cannot be easily adapted to their situation of use, or are not adaptable as those situations change, jeopardises the safety and wellbeing of patients as well as health and care professionals. It also increases the chance of expensive systems being underutilised wasting scarce resources in public health sectors already at breaking point following covid-19. This workshop will break down research results and gather state-of-the-art contributions on how to best support healthcare professionals to leverage assistive robotics technologies to enhance and augment the care they provide in their situations of use. This includes considering how best to design and deploy these systems so that they are intuitive to interact with and adapt to local contexts and patients.

The objectives of this workshop include:

  1. Reviewing how designers and operators can expose machine decision making to verify and validate safe operations in dynamic care environments.

  2. Reviewing how diverse stakeholders can best inform the creation and revision of standards such as ISO 13482 on personal care robots which at present does not consider issues of verification and validation in the face of changing patient needs, for instance.

  3. Assessing how we can put measures of wellbeing at the heart of evidencing the efficacy of RAS to systematically assess the wellbeing implications of assistive robotics on health and care professionals, and the people they care for.

  4. Reviewing how roboticists and care professionals can be empowered to overcome already existing inequalities in the care landscape that mean that marginalised people who most need care are often excluded from benefitting from emerging technologies and services.

  5. Identifying what kind of interdisciplinary collaborations, research infrastructures and innovation policies are needed to support this work.

  6. Identifying how robotics research can overcome issues of local specificity, safely adapting emerging RAS in care to best suit complex local settings where care actually happens.

These objectives are especially important in care settings because of their complex, unstructured, dynamic and unpredictable nature, and because the conditions of care recipients are often in-flux (e.g. because of ageing or changing health conditions). For RAS to be safe, trustworthy and accountable, their design and operation must be assured through dynamic and ongoing verification and validation processes and underpinned by specific human-digital capabilities. However, there is currently a gap in not fully considering the impact of these technologies on care workforce training needs, as well as how they can be designed to integrate with the larger health and social care systems in which they operate.

The objectives of this workshop are particularly salient given the vulnerability of the end-users interacting with these systems – giving rise to a range of complex safety-related issues and ethical concerns. It is necessary to therefore carefully and deeply consider the safety and use of physically assistive robots at not just an operational and functional level – but also from human factors and clinical efficacy perspectives requiring new ways of planning and doing collaborative robotics research.

Our final set of objectives are to address the issue of safely adapting emerging RAS in care to best suit complex local settings where care happens. How robotics that is designed for anywhere is adapted to work in particular settings. Ensuring that when health innovations are spread from one site of emergence to another, care is taken to understand, adapt and reconfigure autonomous systems to best deliver on promises to boost health and wellbeing for everyone.

[Banner photo (cc) by Luca Florio on Unsplash]