Decision and Control Laboratory Lecture Series
Coordinated Science Laboratory
Can I be of Assistance?: Socially Assistive Robots and the Future of Healthy Aging
Goldie Nejat, PhD, PEng
Canada Research Chair in Robots for Society
Associate Professor and Director of the Autonomous Systems and Biomechatronics Laboratory (ASBLab)
Director of the Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics (IRM)
University of Toronto, Canada
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
1232 CSL Studio
Title: Can I be of Assistance?: Socially Assistive Robots and the Future of Healthy Aging
The world is experiencing a silver tsunami: rapid population aging. As the world’s elderly population significantly increases, dementia is becoming one of the fastest growing diseases, with no cure in sight. Robots are seen as a unique strategic technology that will become an important part of society, aiding people in everyday life, in order to meet the urgent and immediate needs of an aging population. This talk will present some of my group’s recent research efforts in developing intelligent assistive robots to improve quality of life and promote independence (aging-in-place) of older adults, including those living with dementia. In particular, I will discuss our Brian, Casper, Tangy, Blueberry and Leia socially assistive robots that have been designed to autonomously provide cognitive and social interventions, help with activities of daily living, and lead group recreational activities in human-centered environments. These robots can serve as assistants to individuals as well as groups of users, while learning to personalize their interactions to the needs of the users. Numerous user studies conducted with older adults in care settings will also be discussed to highlight how these robots can effectively be integrated into people’s everyday lives. Lastly, I will also discuss some of our research efforts in developing learning-based semi-autonomous rescue robots for exploring unknown cluttered and dangerous disaster environments and finding potential victims in order to aid rescue workers. These controllers uniquely allow robots to learn and make optimal decisions regarding which tasks to perform and when during search missions, as well as determine when human intervention is required.
Goldie Nejat, PhD, P.Eng. is the Canada Research Chair in Robots for Society and the Director of the Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics (IRM) at the University of Toronto. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering and the Founder and Director of the Autonomous Systems and Biomechatronics Laboratory (asblab.mie.utoronto.ca). She is also an Adjunct Scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Prof. Nejat received both her B.A.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Toronto.
Prof. Nejat’s research focuses on developing intelligent service robots for applications in health, elderly care, emergency response, search and rescue, security and surveillance, and manufacturing. She has been invited to speak about her research to scientists, healthcare professionals, policy-makers, governments and the general public at many events and institutions around the world. She has served on the organizing and program committees of over thirty international conferences on robotics, automation, human-robot interaction and medical devices. Prof. Nejat is also an Associate Editor for IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, and IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering. Her team's work has been presented in over 90 media stories including in Time magazine, Bloomberg, NBC News, the Telegraph, Reader's Digest, Zoomer magazine, and the Discovery Channel. In 2013, she received the Engineers Canada Young Engineer Achievement Award and in 2012, she received the Professional Engineers of Ontario Young Engineer Medal, both awards are for her exceptional achievements in the field of robotics at a young age.