Trailblazer Project:


A Modular Assistive Robotics Platform Co-designed with Users

“We believe that people need affordable solutions that are bespoke to their needs, and which provide maximal value by being modular in their functionality.” 

Project Summary

This project will combine co-design practices, informed by participatory design research and robotics knowledge to co-produce a hydration module with end users.

Meet the Project Team

Dr Alistair MacConnell

(Principle Investigator)

Assistant Professor in Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University

Dr Mary-Ellen McKendrick

Associate Professor in Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University

Ms Camila Jiminez Pol

Kompanion Co-founder, Chief Design Officer.
User Researcher and Product & Industrial Designer

Mr Alexandre Colle

Kompanion Co-founder, CEO
Edinburgh Centre for Robotics CDT RAS Student

Mr Scott Macleod

Kompanion Co-founder.
Robotics PhD Student at Heriot-Watt University

Dr Ronnie Smith

Kompanion Co-founder.
Senior Robotics Engineer at The National Robotarium, Heriot-Watt University

Mr Andy Coleman

Entrepreneur in Residence for The Bayes Centre, University of Edinburgh

Mentored by:

Dr. Mauro Dragone

Project Plan

Narrative Summary

This project addresses the key issues related to ensuring that the robotic platforms can be easily adapted so that they stay relevant to changing needs of the end-user. Also creating modular robots addresses the sustainability agenda which is a key part of responsible research and innovation. 

Society needs to shift towards a caring approach that prioritises the strengths, preferences, and individuality of the ageing population and their communities. The aim is to provide support that recognises their evolving needs, aspirations and abilities, not just their health challenges. After conducting research and participating in design work with institutions for older adults, we observed that current robotic platforms are challenging to interact with. Our co-design work revealed that carers and residents require adaptability and practicality when using these platforms. 

As a result, we decided to develop a solution by using a co-design process and rapid manufacturing framework to create practical robotic modules that meet the changing needs of older individuals. We use advanced additive manufacturing techniques to produce tailored support for adults in later life and their carers.

First, we created multiple modules in collaboration with care home residents as well as their carers. These included a locomotion base designed to accommodate multiple adaptable modules identified as necessary by the participants. These modules included a "porter" carrying items and a HEPA filter to monitor and purify the air.

Through the EMERGENCE network, we can step up our work with Viewpoint. With the support of multidisciplinary specialists, we will build a Hydration Station module and gain evidence of our approach's impact on the residents and carers at Viewpoint and in other care homes throughout the UK, with a particular focus on the resident's frailty

Hear from the project team...