Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

I-SUPPORT Report Summary

Project ID: 643666
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - I-SUPPORT (ICT-Supported Bath Robots)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The I-SUPPORT project envisions the development and integration of an innovative, modular, ICTsupported service robotics system that supports and enhances frail older adults’ motion and force abilities and assists them in successfully, safely and independently completing the entire sequence of bathing tasks, such as properly washing their back, their upper parts, their lower limbs, their buttocks and groin, and to effectively use the towel for drying purposes. Advanced modules of cognition, sensing, context awareness and actuation will be developed and seamlessly integrated into the service robotics system to enable the robotic bathing system to adapt to the frail senior citizens population’ abilities and enable frail senior users to interact with the robotic system in a master-slave mode, thus, performing bathing activities in an intuitive and safe way. Adaptation and integration of state-of-the-art, cost-effective, soft-robotic arms will provide the hardware constituents, which, together with advanced human-robot force/compliance control that will be developed within the proposed project, will form the basis for a safe physical human-robot interaction that complies with the most up-to-date safety standards. Human behavioural, sociological, safety, ethical and acceptability aspects, as well as financial factors related to the proposed service robotics system will be thoroughly investigated and evaluated so that the I-SUPPORT end result is a close-to-market prototype, applicable to realistic living settings.

The project main specific-implementation objectives are:
• To establish a close collaboration between clinical and technical partners to achieve a user-centred design. Fine tuning of end-user requirements, safety requirements and definition of I-SUPPORT functional specifications. Investigate sociological, gender and ethical considerations
• To create system architecture design. Start developing the subsystems.
• To design system for tracking human posture, movements and actions in the considered application (shower) environment. Start developing the tracking system.
• To research methods and control implementations for direct telemanipulation of the soft arm, for shared control in soft arm tele-manipulation and for interaction control.
• To research methods for robot perception and for recognition of actions, gestures, spoken commands, and the state of a human user.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The main results achieved so far are:
• The establishment of a close collaboration between clinical and technical partners and achievement of a user-centred design. Fine tuning of end-user requirements, safety requirements and definition of I-SUPPORT functional specifications. Investigation of sociological, gender and ethical considerations. Initiation of application for the Ethical plan approval.
• Design of the system architecture d. Initiation of systems development. First experimental results for the soft-robot arm module and for the hand-held motion tracker.
• To design system for tracking human posture, movements and actions in the considered application (shower) environment. Start developing the tracking system. Design and integration of the vision system set-up. Demonstration of first results related to human pose estimation.
• To research methods and control implementations for direct telemanipulation of the soft arm, for shared control in soft arm tele-manipulation and for interaction control.
• Experimental set-up for data collection has been designed and integrated at KIT premisses. Systematic data collection experiments have been conducted for machine learning for human and robot pose estimation, robot motion primitives, audio/gesture recognition. The first significant data corpus has been generated.
• The partners are currently at a stage where they will initiate the integration phase so that progressively the components are integrated and the overarching functionality is tested and demonstrated. The first version of the I-Support system is expected be ready by M23. Each workpackage evolves according to the Gantt chart described in the DoA, Annex I. Milestones and deliverables have been delivered on time (including a grace period of 60 days after the deadline)

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Currently there is no commercially available service robot for assisting the senior citizen in the shower or the bathroom other than the very recent Panasonic hair washer. Furthermore, there are no research results reported in the literature on assisting frail older adults during bathing (be it shower or bath tub). In addition, we have carried out patent search in the USA patent databases and the European patent databases and we found no patents related to service robots for the shower or bath activities. Several groups have pointed out in the literature the need for service robots in the bathroom, but the hurdles of safety, acceptability, cost-effectiveness and affordability which are directly linked to rigid-body manipulator technology, sensor technology and non-intuitive control schemes have prevented so far the implementation of such service robots. The I-SUPPORT proposed project, for the first time, puts together state-of-the-art soft robots technology, advanced control algorithms and cognitive robotics to assist the frail senior users with their bathing activities, thus fostering the prolongation of their active and independent living. Within the project, medical experts together with social scientists are performing behavioural and sociological studies to provide guidelines to engineers who in turn employ new tools (soft robots, shared control, cognitive robotics) and architectures to develop a service robot for assisting bathing activities that address safety, acceptability usability and cost-effectiveness issues.

Related information

Record Number: 192999 / Last updated on: 2016-12-13