School Competition

For the UK Robotics Week 2018 Health and Social Care Challenge, we invite schools to submit their designs for a robot system that addresses the challenge of how to help older people to stay healthy and live independent lives. For instance, the robot could assist with tasks of everyday life (such as eating or cleaning, or getting around), or it could enable people to maintain (or expand) their social lives, or it could help to deliver the treatments that they need.

In 2018 the ways in which we work and play, the types of food we eat, the things we buy in shops and the technology we take for granted mean that our world is very different from that in which our parents grew up. The astonishing advances in hygiene and healthcare over the last century or so have brought incredible benefits to our lives. Health conditions that were debilitating and diseases that were killers only a few generations ago have been all but eliminated in the UK. But these changes also mean that the nature of health and social care is changing: there are more old people than ever before, and often living with complicated health conditions such as dementia or diabetes. More old people find themselves living alone, which can contribute to feelings of social isolation and can lead to mental health problems, and as the average age of the population increases this inevitably means that there are fewer younger people available to provide care, and all the while the total cost of providing that care is increasing.

However, the developments in technology promise a solution, at least in part, to these problems, with one common suggestion being the use of robots to help provide the various sorts of care that an ageing population needs. However, developing such robots is not an easy task, since they have to be able to interact responsibly and safely in changing environments with people who might be frail or vulnerable. While we have developed some robots that can be used to perform very specific care tasks, we’re really only just beginning to understand the full difficulty of what it means to develop and use robots to provide care.

For further information and to submit entries email catch@sheffield.ac.uk, mentioning “robotics week challenge” in the subject line.

Use your imagination, but do try to make your suggestions practical.

Here are some suggestions to help develop your ideas:

• If you have older relatives ask them about the tasks they would most like help with, or which they find most difficult or tiring to do. Ask them what they think about robots, and what they would like robots to do for them.

• Look for news stories about “care robots”, and try to look beyond the headlines to work out what problem the robot is really addressing. Do you think the robot is a good idea? Why?

• Think about various different environments and contexts your robots might be used in. What sort of conditions, objects and obstacles (including other people!) might the robot have to deal with? What capabilities would they need to cope with changes in their environments? What environments would the robot not be suitable for?

• Think about the practicalities (and dangers) of introducing your robots into people’s lives. Who is responsible for taking care of the robot? What safety measures would it need? Can the robot work around (and with) people to provide care?

• Think about what it really means to care for someone.

• Be creative!

Submissions should be the work of teams of up to 8 children aged 16 or under. Entries can be in any standard format, should be no longer than 4 sides of A4 paper or 2 minutes of audio/video (or equivalent), and each school may submit an unlimited number of entries.

The closing date for submissions is 15th June 2018.

The judging panel will then select the best entries, with submissions being judged according to their usefulness, practicality and creativity. The winning teams will be invited to a special one-day event on Tuesday 26th June at their nearest UK-RAS University, during which the teams will visit our robotics facilities to learn more about our research, and get to develop and test their own robots.

For further information and to submit entries email catch@sheffield.ac.uk, mentioning “robotics week challenge” in the subject line.

Event date: 
Friday, June 15, 2018 -
09:15 to 17:15