IROS 2008: a Full-Day Workshop
Robot Services in Aging Society
Date: September 26, 2008 (Friday)


Michael Beetz Technische Universität München
In recent years we have seen tremendous advances in the mechatronic, sensing and computational infrastructure of robots, enabling them to act faster, stronger and more accurately than humans do. Yet, when it comes to accomplishing manipulation tasks in everyday settings, robots often do not even reach the sophistication and performance of young children. This is partly due to humans having developed their brains into computational and control devices that facilitate knowledge-informed decision making, perspective taking, envisioning activities and their consequences, and predictive control. Brains orchestrate these learning and reasoning mechanisms in order to produce flexible, adaptive, and reliable behavior in real-time. Household chores are an activity domain where the superiority of the cognitive mechanisms in the brain and their role in competent activity control is particularly evident. In this talk, I will give an overview of our ongoing research, in which we investigate --- in an interdisciplinary endeavor --- cognitive mechanisms that are to enable
autonomous robots to produce flexible, reliable and high-performance behavior for everyday manipulation activities. The talk will step through the "cognitive perception-action loop" for robot control focusing on the acquisition and use of environment models for housework as a running example.
Henrik Christensen Georgia Institute of Technology
Over the next 2-3 decades the industrialized world is going to experience a significant aging. The elderly people will at the same time be accustomed to significant material wealth, and they will in many cases have deep knowledge about computers. They are used to an independent style of living. As such the established mechanisms for support in the later part of life are poorly adopted to these citizens. Autonomy and independence will be a premier priority to these people. Through introduction of robots into their living space it is possible to maintain a high degree of autonomy and independence. The variety of robots that are of relevance is very diverse from basic cleaning to mobility and cognitive support. In this presentation a number of examples of use of robot technology will be presented and it will be discussed how these technologies in the future will be an enabled for a continued assurance of a quality of life without a need for relocation.
Kerstin Dautenhahn University of Herfortshire
Interactive and socially intelligent artifacts are increasingly being used in everyday human environments, e.g. as assistants, companions or toys. Significant research activities can be found in Japan, USA, and Europe where several European projects are investigating such applications. My own research team has been actively involved in a few projects targeting robot companions, namely IROMEC (Interactive RObotic social MEdiators as Companions), Cogniron (The cognitive robot companion), and LIREC (LIving with Robots and intEractive Companions). Target user groups in our research include children with special needs as well as (more recently) elderly people. All these target applications have in common the need for a user-centred perspective in order to ensure the acceptability of robots which is one of the key factors that will determine whether an ultimate companion product will succeed on the market. My talk will provide a brief overview of research into robotic companions and highlight some of the key issues that our research has identified in our quest to develop robots that are not only useful (i.e. capable to perform certain tasks reliably and – where needed – intelligently), but also socially acceptable from the viewpoint of target user groups. My presentation will close with a list of key challenges in the field of developing assistive robot companions.
Masayuki Inaba University of Tokyo
IT and Robot Technology, IRT, project in The University of Tokyo has started under the program of Innovation Center for Advanced Interdisciplinary Research Areas of MEXT in Japanese. It aims to create foundational IRT to support aging and low birthrate society. In this project we develop assistive technologies and their integration in collaboration with companies for the next industry to assist future society. In this presentation, we show the research activities of Robot System Research Group in the project.
Takeo Kanade Carnegie Mellon University
We define Quality of Life Technology (QoLT) as intelligent systems that augment body and mind for self-determination for older adults and people with disabilities. QoLT systems take many forms: they could be a device that a person carries, a mobile system that accompanies a person, or a technology-embedded environment in which a person lives. While QoLT R&D yields intelligent systems, it is a departure from traditional robotics research aimed at “more intelligent”, “more autonomous” systems for which reducing human involvement is an implicit goal. In contrast, QoLT systems work in the daily environment with a person and for the person; it is not just an artificial “system”, but person-system symbiosis in which the person and the artifact components are mutually dependent and work together. QoLT is the first serious attempt to make intelligent systems work with people in the most natural, unstructured, changing everyday-life environments. In addition to the techniques for robust perception, safe mobility and manipulation, and dynamic interface, we must develop understanding of how people act and behave in everyday life – or science of everyday living, a domain that science has not yet targeted. The presentation discusses the challenges, opportunities and progress of QoLT.
Tim Lueth Technische Universität München
Tomomasa Sato University of Tokyo
An overview of a newly established information and robot technology (IRT) project and its subproject, the IRT environment, are introduced. The goal of the IRT project is the realization of humanoid robots, social and daily life support systems, and personal mobility systems. The IRT environment enables not only the stated systems to function better and more robustly but also the environment to offer support to human directly by utilizing environmentally embedded robot components, a robot network and real world computation.
Isao Shimoyama University of Tokyo
Create IRT innovations that address the challenges of an aging, low birthrate society
To solve the challenges of an aging, low birthrate society, which Japan is at the vanguard of tackling, and to develop new robot industries that promise to be key industries in the example of the automotive and computer industries which have served as engines of Japan’s prosperity, the University of Tokyo has established the Center for IRT. This center is well-equipped with knowledge, personnel, and facility to move confidently ahead with the creation of innovation.

Achieve a model in academic-industrial partnership that conquers the“Valley of Death”by creating equal partnerships between the University and industry from the first stages of research
By having academic-industrial cooperation from the basic research phase with a firm focus on the exit to industry, we seek to conquer the“ Valley of Death”as a program of the Special Coordination Funds for the development of advanced technologies. Under the leadership of the University president, we will tackle the necessary structural reforms and create a new model in academic-industrial partnership that places the University and businesses on equal footing.

Foster scientists and engineers with outstanding problem-solving abilities by uniting segmented specialized fields
We will place young researchers who have completed their doctorates at the heart of our projects. By uniting segmented and increasingly complex academic fields, and by carrying out projects that incorporate knowledge necessary for commercialization and productization, we seek to foster scientists and engineers equipped with high-level abilities necessary to solve problems.ot components, a robot network and real world computation.

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