ICRA2018 Workshop

Workshop on Elderly Care Robotics – Technology and Ethics (WELCARO)
May 21, 2018
Brisbane, Australia

The number of elderly people living at home is increasing, and this trend is expected to continue in the coming years. In countries like Japan, the number of elderly people is beginning to surpass the number of young people due to the low birth rate and long life expectancy. Thus, there is a need for technology, in term of software and hardware, that can support the elderly in independent living. A part of this is to help their family as well as make caregivers work effectively.

 A number of mobile robot companions have been developed, providing advanced sensing, reasoning and control. However, despite the available technology seems promising, it poses several challenges when used in real scenarios that range from how to handle complex and different environments to adequately address possible ethical issues that can arise from its use. For instance, technology can easily be seen as a threat to privacy, daily interpersonal contact and citizens' control over their own lives. It can even give rise to the elderly’s feeling being treated like an object rather than a human. Thus, it is important to address how robots and systems are going to be designed and used to avoid any negative impact and improve the elderly's quality of life. In addition to robot control and mechanics, ambient sensing and human-robot interaction are important topics in research on elderly care technology. This workshop is intended to share knowledge about technological opportunities and challenges regarding robots and systems for assistive care as well as open a dialogue within the scientific society about the ethical issues to be considered.

The workshop would target to contain sessions/talks on:
  • Sensing technology and sensor data analysis (technology for observing the condition of elderly, including techniques for evaluating their current – and potentially predict their future – state)
  • Robot companions (mobile robots targeting elderly care)
  • Applications (examples of robotics supporting elderly in living independently)
  • Ethics (what are the most relevant issues and how should they be addressed)
  • Concluding with a discussion session (potentially organized as a panel debate)
The authors of the accepted full paper will be invited to submit an extended version for inclusion in a special issue of Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems (Springer, impact factor 1.5). Click "CfP: SI: Elderly Care Robotics – Techno..." on the Journal web page to see the Call-for-papers.

Registration for the workshop and conference is found here: Registration  
Please note that the regular conference registration does not include Workshops/Tutorials which have a separate registration.

Invited speakers
Professor Kenji Suzuki, University of Tsukuba, Japan
Title of talk: Elderly Care Technology for Empowering People in their Daily lives

Summary of the talk: In this talk, several approaches to robot-assisted care is introduced through the design, implementation and clinical challenge. There are some case studies of robot assisted rehabilitation or care are introduced: (i) A lower-limb exoskeleton robot, (ii) A novel personal mobility vehicle, (iii) Socially assistive humanoid robot for guiding elderly individuals. In addition to that, a wearable sensing for assessing swallows by using an AI/IoT device is also introduced, which is designed for helping people to enjoy eating even a day longer.

Speaker bio: 
He is currently a Professor of the Faculty of Engineering, Information and Systems, and also Principle Investigator of Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, University of Tsukuba. He is also an active member of the Center for Cybernics Research and Center for Artificial Intelligence Research. He was a visiting researcher at the University of Genoa, Italy, and at the College de France, Paris. His primary research interests include artificial intelligence, Cybernics, wearable robotics/devices, and  affective computing. A special emphasis is laid on the design of empowering people, particularly for children and elderly with special needs. 

Prof. Laurel Riek, University of California San Diego, US 
Title of talk: Healthcare Robotics: Supporting Older Adults, Caregivers, and the Clinical Workforce

Robots are now entering our daily lives - in the home, on the road, in offices, and in hospitals. To operate proximately with people, robots need the ability to dynamically and quickly interpret human activities, understand context, and take appropriate (and safe) actions. They also need to learn from and adapt to people long term. My research focuses on building robots that autonomously solve problems in human environments, particularly those that are safety critical (e.g., hospitals, homes, and factories). Recent contributions include new methods to model stochastic environments and circumvent sensor noise and occlusion, new techniques to enable robots to robustly solve problems under limited computational resources, and methods for robots to perceive and learn from people long term. Our primary application focus is healthcare, and recent projects include supporting older adults in home environments, including people with cognitive impairments, as well as new ways to use robots to support caregivers and the clinical workforce. This talk will describe several recent projects in this space.

Speaker Bio:
Dr. Laurel Riek is an Associate Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, with joint appointments in the Department of Emergency Medicine and Contextual Robotics Institute. Dr. Riek directs the Healthcare Robotics Lab, and leads research in human-robot teaming, computer vision, and healthcare engineering, and builds autonomous systems which work proximately with people. Riek's current research projects have applications in critical care, neurorehabilitation, and home health. Dr. Riek received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge, and B.S. in Logic and Computation from Carnegie Mellon. Riek served as a Senior Artificial Intelligence Engineer and Roboticist at The MITRE Corporation from 2000-2008, working on learning and vision systems for robots, and held the Clare Boothe Luce chair in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Notre Dame from 2011-2016. Dr. Riek has received the NSF CAREER Award, AFOSR Young Investigator Award, Qualcomm Research Award, and multiple best paper awards.

Dr. Yoshio Matsumoto, AIST, Tsukuba, Japan, 
Title of talk: Development and Introduction of Robotic Devices for Elderly Care in Japan

Due to the rapid progress of aging society in Japan, it is urgently expected to develop assistive robots to realize reduction of the burden on nursing care, and to promote the independence of the elderly people. Japanese government started a project to promote the development and introduction of robotic devices for elderly care in 2013. In this project, METI (the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) and MHLW (the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare) determined the “prioritized areas in elderly care” in which robotic technologies should be applied as follows: Transfer Assistance (Wearable Type / Non-Wearable Type), Mobility Support (Outdoor / Indoor), Excretion / Bathing Support and Monitoring Support (Institution / Home). In this talk, the robotic devices being developed in the project and commercialized are introduced. In addition, key factors and issues in the development and introduction are addressed, some of which are related with Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and IoT.

Speaker Bio:
Dr. Yoshio Matsumoto is a team leader of Service Robotics Research Team, Robot Innovation Research Center, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). He received Ph.D degree in engineering from the University in 1998. He has worked for the Australian National University, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Osaka University, and joined AIST in 2009. His research interests include service robotics, assistive robotics, human–robot interaction, and real-time vision.


The workshop is partially supported by the following research projects:
  • JST CREST "Computational and cognitive neuroscientific approaches for understanding the tender care", under grant agreement JPMJCR17A5.
  • COINMAC "Collaboration on Intelligent Machines" funded by Research Council of Norway, under grant agreement 261645.