Potentials of robotic devices and embodied agents for health & care services towards a resilient society
Chair: Daniela Krainer, Fachhochschule Kärnten
Lisa-Marie Faller, Fachhochschule Kärnten
Cornelia Schneider, Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt
In this session, we want to discuss with and bring together experts from interdisciplinary fields of robotic or embodied devices focusing on improving the provision of health and care services for a resilient society.
Topics of interest include, but are not limited to the following:
Robotics and embodied agents
- in rehabilitation, health & care
- in everyday life assistance
- at work (industrial assistance)
- for communication and communication support
Design criteria for robotics and embodied agents regarding
- system intelligence and autonomy
- interaction concepts
- hardware and construction
- ethical issues, privacy and security risks
Society in general and the health care sector in particular are facing major challenges due to demographic trends and changes in Europe. Examples include the growing proportion of older people, the increasing urbanization, and the resulting depopulation of rural areas. Besides the impact on various economical aspects, the shrinking and ageing rural areas face challenges in the provision of flexible mobility services, fast internet and adequate health-care services. Focusing on the healthcare sector, there is a need of innovative ways to combine cost-efficiency with increased availability of care services . According to the United Nations , ensuring good health and wellbeing and providing access to quality essential health-care services (SDG3) is one of the sustainable development goals . To this end, digital technologies can be a major enabler to overcome these challenges.
Robotic and embodied agents – if used properly and in a user-friendly way – have a high potential to support high quality of care, increase efficiency and provide additional relief of care workers, improve therapy and rehabilitation outcomes, can overtake repetitive tasks, social support and communication or motivating activation.
Currently, the field of robotics is facing major challenges including, amongst others, human-robot collaboration (Cobots), ethical issues, privacy and security risks, reliable artificial intelligence or multi-functionality . The acceptance of robots to support or overtake health and care service strongly correlate with those factors and is furthermore interlinked with economic benefits and technical performance indicators. Participatory research alone is not able to solve all these challenges, but it provides the basis to define useful application areas. Together with community researchers, citizens and further stakeholders, a better understanding of needs and requirements of the human collaborators (e.g. older adults, care workers, …) as well as the definition, implementation and evaluation of concepts together is fostered. This combination of participatory and technical research will thus facilitate products with an increased impact and experienced added value.
We would like to spotlight on and discuss new and innovative robotic solutions, embodied agents and services that demonstrate or indicate the potential benefits of a human-robotic collaboration and the impact on improving health, safety, participation, autonomy and further subjective quality of life indicators for the involved user groups. Furthermore, and to shape and stabilize a positive robotic attitude in Austria and Europe we also invite contributors to address experienced challenges during research and studies and initiate critical and fruitful discussions and learnings.
 The impact of demographic change on European regions. European Committee of the regions, European Union, 2016, doi: 10.2863/26932.
 United Nations. “Department of Economic and Social Affairs – Sustainable Development”. sdgs.un.org/. https://sdgs.un.org/ (accessed Okt. 22,2021).
 G.Yang, J. Bellingham, P. Dupont, P. Fischer, L. Floridi, R. Full, N. Jacobstein, V. Kumar, M. McNutt, R. Merrifield, B. Nelson, B. Scassellati, M. Taddeo, R. Taylor, M. Veloso, Z. Wang, R. Wood, (2018). “The Grand Challenges of Science Robotics,” Science Robotics, 3(14): eaar7650, 2018, DOI:10.1126/scirobotics.aar7650.