The challenge aims to encourage investigation into how robots can be integrated in healthcare services of the future, to help address the predicted rising costs and strain of healthcare provision and services in the UK.
The challenge aims to draw out ideas in how robotics can be used for different aspects of our healthcare system, in order to work with and support health professionals, in providing improved physical and cognitive deficit support. To achieve this, we need to utilise ‘living laboratory’ facilities where prototype robots can be evaluated in home-like environments. A vital aspect of this activity will be to allow robots in different institutions to pool knowledge that they gain from their local interactions and thereby become “more than the sum of their parts”.
The research issues to be addressed include:
- assisted mobility;
- personal hygiene;
- social support;
- preventative and rehabilitation monitoring;
- remote assistance;
- food preparation.
Underpinning questions to be addressed are:
- Can we build a network of robots and humans who become better than the sum of their individual capabilities, so that a robot faced with a new and complex task can get help and gain experience from other remote agents, robot or human?;
- Type of cyber-secure networked communication and control architectures are needed to achieve i)?;
- How are robots best integrated into the digital support package?;
- How can we ensure the robustness and safety of systems during normal operation and that they degrade gracefully?
Of course many other more generic individual technical research issues can also be addressed, such as object recognition, grasping and manipulation, speech recognition and other multi-modal sensing issues, In addition, the regulatory, ethical and legal barriers imposed on robots (already experienced in robot-assisted surgery) could be assessed to ensure a tightly integrated control between the operator and the robot when autonomy is considered.
Underpinning technologies will include:
- Immersive tele-presence;
- Long-term autonomy;
- Dynamic autonomy;
- Verification and validation of safety to match requirements and emerging regulations, including assisting in regulation formation;
- Social and physical intelligence;
- Spoken language understanding;
- Networked hardware for Human-in-the-Loop simulation;
- Multi-modal perceptual learning for cooperative control via Learning-from-Demonstration;
- Acquired knowledge transfer between robots from vii) and viii), including cyber-security of that transfer.
For more information, please see the Social Care Robot Challenge page.