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HELSEVEL-Gode og effektive helse-, omsorgs- og velferdstjenester

Human Interactive Robotics for Healthcare

Alternative title: Humanoid Interaktiv robotikk for bruk i helsevesenet

Awarded: NOK 5.6 mill.

HIRo introduces a completely new concept for improving health services in hospitals and municipalities, through the integration of a humanoid robot (EVE). The goal is to develop a robot that can act as an assistant to personnel and patients in daily tasks such as transporting or handing over equipment for medical tasks; to help patients find their way in the facilities; or assist patients with disabilities to pick up objects or move around. The projectgroup began the projectwork by establishing a reference group and a user panel. We have further mapped the challenges of hospitals and municipalities related to the performance of repetitive tasks that could possibly be performed by a robot. Furthermore, we investigated what exists of different robots in these areas today - and where there is a lack of suitable technology. This knowledge was designed as a report. The report leads the further work in the project and has been submitted to the Research Council. The project group conducted its start-up seminar in December 2020, where the project and the planned activities were presented. The reference group consisting of Patrick Holthaus from the Adaptive Systems Research Group, University of Hertfordshire UK. Holthaus has extensive experience with research on robots in health contexts. Greg Reichberg from the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) has in-depth knowledge of ethical issues. Dorien Vandormael, imens, Belgium, Katharina Stibrant Sunnerhagen, University of Gothenburg and Elisabeth Sørensen, Larvik municipality have all performed research on the use of welfare technologies. Our user panel participated with Anders Nupen Hansen, the National Association for Spinal Cord Injury Ulrik Sverdrup, LHL stroke-foundation and Øyvind Gerhardsen, Sunnaas Hospital user committee and SAFO. The user group had useful input on what they would want from a robot as an assistant. The meeting was digital and open to other external participants and published via Sunnaas Hospital, Halodi and the Institute of Energy Technology. The seminar facilitated good discussions which was useful for the further planning of the activities and the data collection that was to be carried out. The data collection was to investigate which activities health personnel perform during a normal day in a hospital. The project group had planned to "shadow" health personnel over time. Unfortunately, this could not be done due to the strict access rules as a result of covid19. Instead, a survey was sent out to employees at Sunnaas Hospital. Later, in-depth interviews were conducted with employees in the nursing service. Further work will consist of a prioritization of tasks that can be performed by the robot EVE, and then tested at Sunnaas Hospital. This is planned to be completed in early 2021. The project has been presented and discussed in a number of contexts, including the Human-Robot Interaction 2021 conference, the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Conference 2021 and the Rehabilitation Conference in Haugesund 2021.

HIRo proposes a new concept for improving healthcare services through the integration of a humanoid robot platform (EVE R3) to support staff and patients in healthcare contexts: from assisting healthcare staff (for instance caring or handing over equipment needed for medical tasks) to supporting dependent patients in everyday tasks (like fetching objects or guiding them in the facilities). This platform will be based on user needs (both healthcare staff and patients) and integrated with ongoing changes in hospital facilities and municipal services, intending to potentiate their impact on work processes and types of services available. Identifying requirements for deployment and adoption barriers will be crucial to the development of useful and efficient technology that is adopted by both healthcare staff and patients in different settings and for specific tasks. In HIRo we will select concrete contexts in healthcare where several types of tasks and applications of an advanced humanoid robot could be piloted and deployed with a thorough need-finding analysis and assessment process to ensure that the technology is useful and accepted by the end-users and achieves the intended goals. We will provide evidence on the relevance, applicability, efficiency, usability and acceptability of robotics in hospital and homecare settings. Our multidisciplinary team, led by end-users and involving robot developers and experimental and organisational researchers in human-robot interaction and safety, is uniquely suited for the task. Through an integrated approach, we aim to gather empirical evidence for human-robot interaction in both controlled/laboratory settings (e.g. studying aspects such as how robot emotional expressions can impact humans' perception of friendliness and trustworthiness), as well as in realistic simulation of rehabilitation settings/home assistance services (users' perception of the robot's intentions and willingness to collaborate).

Funding scheme:

HELSEVEL-Gode og effektive helse-, omsorgs- og velferdstjenester