Robotic Helpers: User Interaction, Interfaces and Companions in Assistive and Therapy Robotics

A full-day workshop at ACM/IEEE Human-Robot Interaction Conference (HRI08)

12-15 March 2008, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Programme is available

Motivation and Background

Rehabilitation robotics comprises assistive and therapy robotics whereby robots either compensate for functionalities that a person does not possess (e.g. a smart knee joint in prosthetic leg) or where robots play a role in the effort of trying to regain impaired functionalities (e.g. arm function training for stroke patients). Robotic therapy systems may not be able to provide a cure or fully compensate for impairments, but may be able to extend or enhance certain impaired functions in order to increase quality of life, independent living, as well as support needs for communication and social interaction (e.g. for elderly people or people with developmental delays). Finally it is hoped that robotic technology may add to the solution of the increasing problem of shortage in available personal care due to demographic changes.

Increasing the quality of life of people, providing enjoyment in otherwise constrained conditions that are restricting expressions of personality, personal interests, and enjoyment, constitutes an area with a potentially large user group, including hospitalized people, and people who could simply benefit from a service robot that serves as a companion in the home that may do certain domestic and other tasks efficiently and in a manner that is comfortable and acceptable to people.

The boundaries between assistive robotics, therapy robotics and service robotics are fluid, with a necessary (but often not fully realized) focus on human beings, the users, who are crucial to the success or failure of research and commercial efforts put into the development of robotic systems. Users (primary as well as secondary, the latter consisting of therapists, doctors, family members, parents, etc.) are ideally involved from the very first phases of the planning and design of a new robotic system, continuously through various stages of evaluation and prototyping. This research domain is unique in HRI because of the high level of interaction customization and, ideally, personalization required to account for users' abilities and interests. For robotic helpers in assistive and therapy robotics, it is crucial that they are able to engage users long-term in interaction, providing an enjoyable, motivating experience. HRI research has shown that the novelty effect quickly wears off, which may be acceptable in entertainment applications with only short-term encounters, but for robotic helpers to be useful in therapy and rehabilitation they need to be able to keep the interest of the users. The problem of keeping users engaged is complex, and we cannot expect an easy answer. At present, it is not clear what social, interactive and communicative skills are required for robotic helpers. Clearly, these will depend on:

  • The nature of the contact with humans (e.g., short-term over a limited period of interaction sessions or long-term),
  • The robot's functionality (e.g., only one clearly defined limited function compared to a multi-functional robot that may learn and adapt),
  • The role of the robot (e.g., whether it is presented to the user and used as a tool or as an assistant, companion with personality traits and emotional expressiveness)
  • The necessity of the robot to be social/communicative (e.g., human-robot verbal dialogue may be useful for certain applications, but not for others where users may have language impairment and where alternative interfaces may be more suitable).
  • Not only the nature of the assistance needed by a user will influence the robot's degree of social and communicative skills, but also individual user preferences, likes and dislikes are important. For example, a young child with movement impairments might love to have a robotic friend in order to make therapy or rehabilitation more fun. An adult in a similar medical situation may focus on the functionality of the robot in terms of benefit to his health, or the cost of using the robot compared to other devices, and he may not necessarily desire a robotic system that tries to be fun and build a relationship.

    For the evaluation and analysis of user-system interaction, methods used in social sciences, human-computer interaction, and psychology are often relevant; however, working with people with special needs poses particular constraints resulting from their vulnerability, and opens up challenges for creative development of new approaches, methods and methodologies for system design, interaction analysis and evaluation. Last but not least, various constraints (cultural, social-economic, political etc.) may decide on whether a system, well-designed and well-liked by its target users, will ultimately be used widely and thus fulfill its promise.

    The workshop will provide a state of the art overview and discussion of important topics relevant to Robotic Helpers. This topic is closely related to the overall conference theme of Living with Robots, but the workshop will be oriented specifically towards real world applications in rehabilitation and robot assisted living.

    The workshop will take a multi-disciplinary view, which is necessary in order to build foundational knowledge that will help in future to design systems that are able to care for people, and that people care about.

    Topics of interest include, but are not restricted to the following list:

  • assistive robotics
  • therapy robotics
  • robot assisted play
  • non-invasive methods of interfacing users
  • interfaces and modalities for user control (e.g. for patients, therapists etc.)
  • sustaining engagement of users
  • personalizing interfaces and interaction
  • adjustable autonomy
  • adaptable and adaptive interfaces
  • user needs and interaction
  • user experience
  • evaluation of interfaces and systems in rehabilitation
  • robots as autonomous companions or tools in rehabilitation
  • ethical issues of using robots in assistive technology and rehabilitation
  • related issues
  • Draft Programme

    12th March 2008, Wednesday

    9:00 Opening

    9:00-10:00 Session: Robotic Social Mediators

    Socially assistive robots for individuals suffering from dementia
    Adriana Tapus, Juan Fasola, Maja J. Mataric
    (Univ. of Southern California, USA)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 1-3

    Robot and play - From assistance to mediation
    Gernot Kronreif, Barbara Prazak-Aram
    (Profactor Research and Solutions GmbH; Austrian Research Centers GmbH, Austria)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 5-7

    The development of an assistive robot as a social mediator to enhance the primal imitation skills of autistic children
    P. Ravindra S. de Silva, Tohru Matsumoto, Azusa Saito, Stephen G. Lambacher, Masatake Higashi
    (Toyota Technological Instiitute; University of Aizu, Japan)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 9-16

    Investigating play scenarios for robot-assisted play with children with autism
    Ben Robins, Ester Ferrari, Kerstin Dautenhahn
    (Univ. of Hertfordshire, UK)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 17-18

    10:00-10:15 Discussion

    10:15-10:30 Presentation/Discussion:

    Is market implementation the ultimate goal?
    Gert Jan Gelderblom
    (Vilans, the Netherlands)


    11:00-11:45 Session: Users' perspectives

    Measuring perceived adaptiveness in a robotic eldercare companion
    Marcel Heerink, Ben Krose, Bob Wielinga, Vanessa Evers
    (Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Univ. of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 19-21

    Trying to be helpful: Social dilemmas for smart robots
    Cristen Torrey, Susan R. Fussell, Sara Kiesler
    (Carnegie Mellon University, USA)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 23-26

    The role of autonomy and interaction type on spatial comfort in an HRI scenario
    Dag. S. Syrdal, Michael L. Walters, Kheng L. Koay, Kerstin Dautenhahn
    (Univ. of Hertfordshire, UK)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 27-29

    11:45-12:00 Discussion

    12:00-12:15 Presentation:

    Illusion versus Reality in companion robots: A Reprise
    Ronald C. Arkin
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 31

    12:15-12:30 Discussion (continued over lunch)


    13:30-14:00 Session: Rehabilitation intervention

    Stress recognition in a robotic rehabilitation task
    Andrea Bonarini, Luca Mainardi, Matteo Matteucci, Simone Tognetti, Roberto Colombo
    (Politecnico di Milano; Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri, Italy)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 41-48

    Robotic rehabilitation of the upper limb in persons with multiple sclerosis: A usability and effectiveness study
    P. Feys, G. Alders, D. Gijbels, J. de Boeck, T. de Weyer, K. Coninx, C. Raymaekers, J. Annegarn, K. Meijer, H. Savelberg, V. Truyens, M. Thijs, N. Goyens, B. Op 't Eijnde
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 49-52

    14:00-14:15 Discussion

    14:10-15:15 Session: Intelligent wheelchairs and assistive devices

    Adaptive shared autonomy using reservoir computing
    Xavier Dutoit, Dirk Vanhooydonck, Hendrik van Brussel, Marnix Nuttin
    (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 53-57

    Collaborative control in human wheelchair interaction reduces the need for dexterity in precise manoeuvres
    Tom Carlson, Yiannis Demris
    (Imperial College, UK)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 59-66

    Can Bayes help disabled users? A Bayesian approach to plan recognition and shared control for steering an electrical wheelchair
    Alexander Huntemann, Eric Demeester, Hendrik van Brussel, Marnix Nuttin
    (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 67-70

    Intention driven assistive wheelchair navigation
    Tarek Taha, Jaime Valls Miro, Gamini Dissanayake
    (University of Technology Sydney, Australia)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 71-77

    15:15-15:30 Discussion


    16:00-16:45 Session: Assisted Manipulation

    EI-E: An assistive robot that fetches objects from flat surfaces
    Hai Nguyen, Cressel Anderson, Alexander Trevor, Advait Jain, Zhe Xu, Charles C. Kemp
    (Georgia Tech, USA)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 79-86

    An on-going evaluation of domestic robots
    Gabriella Cortellessa, Amy Loutfi, Federico Pecora
    (Italian National Research Council, Italy; Orebro University, Sweden)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 87-91

    Experimental design for human-robot interaction with assistive technology
    Katherine M. Tsui, Holly A. Yanco, David Kontak, Linda Beliveau
    (Univ. of Massachusetts Lowell; Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center, USA)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 93-100

    16:45-17:00 Discussion

    17:00-17:15 Presentation:

    ETHEL: Toward a principled ethical eldercare robot
    Michael Anderson (Univ. of Hartford, USA), Susan Leigh Anderson
    (Univ. of Connecticut, USA)
    pages in Workshop Proceedings: 33-39

    17:15-17:30 Discussion

    End of workshop

    Dates and Location

    The workshop is associated to HRI'08, 12-15 March 2008, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The workshop will be held on 12 March 2008.

    Workshop Organizers

    Kerstin Dautenhahn, University of Hertfordshire, UK (use K.Dautenhahn "@" herts "." ac "." uk for any inquiries regarding the workshop)
    Gert Jan Gelderblom, VILANS, the Netherlands, (gj.gelderblom "@" irv "dot" nl)
    Holly Yanco, Computer Science Department, University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA (holly "@"cs "." uml "."edu)

    Submission of Contributions

    We invite the submission of full papers or extended abstracts (PDF, double column, ACM SIG Proceedings format, 2-3 pages for extended abstracts, up to 8 pages for full papers). Submissions may be research papers on original work, system design descriptions, research surveys, project descriptions, or position papers. Note that papers without any explicit discussion or application of the context of assistive or therapy robotics will not be accepted. Please send the PDF submissions to K.Dautenhahn "@" herts "." ac "." uk (files bigger than 2MB will not be accepted). All submissions will be peer reviewed. Final contributions in the same format (PDF, double column, ACM SIG Proceedings format) and up to 8 pages will be included in the workshop publication.

    Workshop Participation

    The workshop will be limited to 30 participants. Within this constraint anyone interested in the topic is welcome to attend, as long as he/she has registered for the workshop and main conference.

    Workshop Publication

    Final versions of papers are available online (PDF) on this website. The Proceedings of this workshop should be references as:
    Proc. of "Robotic Helpers: User Interaction, Interfaces and Companions in Assistive and Therapy Robotics", a Workshop at ACM/IEEE HRI 2008, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 12 March 2008, Technical Report 470 University of Hertfordshire, UK.

    Important Dates

  • 7 January 2008: Deadline for submission of extended abstracts
  • 28 January 2008: Deadline for notifications sent to authors
  • 11 February 2008: Deadline for submission of final workshop contributions (full papers or extended abstracts)