Posts Tagged Social robots
A new study has revealed that socially assistive robots (SARs), though already in use, will continue to see a rise as they become more suited to human relations.
By Mario L. Major August, 20th 2018
From K5s who patrols our local streets and parking areas to a host of bots which serve as personal assistants at home and on the go, programmable machines are increasingly entering our lives in new and dynamic ways. Still, the challenge of integrating robotics into heavily human-dependent labor such as retail and medical assistance remains a challenge.
A multidisciplinarian team of researchers at Freiburg University assessed the potential impact of robots in the area of physical rehabilitation in the future. The study, led by Dr. Philipp Kellmeyer, a neuroscientist in the University’s Medical Center, and Prof. Dr. Oliver Müller, a professor from the philosophy department found that socially assistive robots (SARs), though already in use, by all indications will be used increasingly more.
As the world’s population continues to grow, and with improved medical procedures improving post-op recovery rates and extending people’s average lifespan, SAR demand will inevitably increase.
Beyond continuing the research and development process to improve the technical capabilities of these helpful bots, much attention, the team concluded, should be given to developing strategies for how to create a relationship between SARs and patients. Few of us, especially those who have gone through the pain and frustration involved in physical rehabilitation, would disagree that the rapport with a health services professional becomes the main factor in maintaining the patient’s motivation.
Are we setting the bar too high for SARs?
Though SARs still serve as assistants in the rehabilitation process, not the main role, it is still crucial to clearly define just what that role will be, and what it will look like throughout the rehabilitation process. This is key as SARs assist patients in three different areas: people with cognitive disabilities, people who require rehabilitation, and ageing or elderly patients.
In a previous study titled “The Grand Challenges in Socially Assistive Robotics”, a team of researchers classified the most important components for effective SAR design in six categories:
The robot’s physical embodiment (including physical, responsive and cultural aspects)
Personality, which is, in essence, the main factor in achieving successful human-robot interactions
Empathy, which is a relative concept, is central. The researchers shared from their observations: “Machines cannot feel empathy. However, it is possible to create robots that display overt signs of empathy. In order to emulate empathy, a robotic system should be capable of recognizing the user’s emotional state, communicating with people, displaying emotion, and conveying the ability of taking perspective.”
The relative level of engagement with patients, which includes verbal and non-verbal communication
Adaptation, which involves learning from an environment and quickly implementing lessons into the patient interaction.
Transfer, which focuses on long-term behavioral changes of the SAR.
Though by no means trying to build the perfect robots or a human replacement, due to the delicate nature of this work, it’s important for those involved in SAR design to continue to have discussions about small to significant ways to improve the patient experience.
With a title that truly gets to the heart of the matter, the study “Social robots in rehabilitation: A question of trust” is published in the Science Robotics journal this month.
SOCIAL ROBOTS IN REHABILITATION
Philipp Kellmeyer, neurologist at the University Medical Center Freiburg, and Oliver Müller, Professor for Philosophy at the University of Freiburg, published their article “Social robots in rehabilitation: A question of trust” in Science Robotics. The researchers argue that social assistive robots (SARs) in rehabilitation can support, but not replace, human physical therapists, and that building trust between patients and SARs is key to the success of the therapeutic approach.
SARs can provide rehabilitation assistance for patients with motor, cognitive, speech and language impairments. The robots can take responsibilities off nursing and therapeutic staff and take over tasks like the repetition of movements, speaking and interacting with patients.
According to the authors, a successful therapy can only be achieved if patients trust the robot and feel safe and understood. It is, therefore, necessary to enable the robot to capture, interpret and predict human movements. Apart from the physical conditions of the patient, the robot needs to recognize the cognitive, emotional and psychological condition of a patient and must be able to adjust the therapy accordingly. Vice versa, the patient has to be able to predict the robot’s movements and actions. This will increase the feeling of trust between the patient and the robot, which is essential for the success of the therapeutic approach.
Yet, the scientists argue, social robots can only assist human physical therapist, they cannot replace them. It is important to scientifically monitor and analyze the deployment of robots and other types of artificial intelligence more holistically. Together with legal scholar Silja Vöneky and computer scientist Wolfram Burgard, both from the University of Freiburg, Philipp Kellmeyer and Oliver Müller will continue to research this topic. As a part of their FRIAS research focus, they will investigate emerging ethical, legal, philosophical and social aspects of interactions between humans and autonomous systems and artificial intelligence. In this twelve months endeavor, they will be joined by Shelly Levy-Tzedek, head of the Cognition, Aging & Rehabilitation Laboratory at the Ben Gurion University in Israel, and third co-author of the published article.
More information on the publication in the German press release
More information on the FRIAS research focus
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