CORDIS - EU research results

COgnitive Development for Friendly RObots and Rehabilitation

Final Report Summary - CODEFROR (COgnitive Development for Friendly RObots and Rehabilitation)

The objective of the joint exchange project CODEFROR is to investigate aspects of human cognitive development with the double goal of developing robots able to interact with humans in a friendly way and of designing and testing protocols and devices for sensory and motor rehabilitation of disabled children. The methodology we follow combines science driven investigation of human cognitive development and engineering based implementation of devices and protocols. The intended focus is on social interaction and how the knowledge of this aspect of development could lead to robots able to communicate with humans in a natural and “biological way” (friendly robots), and/or give rise to training and rehabilitation techniques for children with sensory, motor and cognitive disabilities.

Social interaction is a bidirectional process based on a shared representation of actions and on mutual understanding and its study will help discovering how infants develop the understanding of actions, intentions and emotions to progressively improve their social behaviors. In addition, implementing models derived from humans studies on robots provides an additional constructive approach to investigate cognitive development and could benefit both robotics (better robots) and neuroscience, providing a test-bed for the proposed theories.

To be successful this multidisciplinary program calls for a wide range of expertise both in terms of scientific communities (developmental psychology, robotics, sensory and motor rehabilitation), and in relation to engineering implementation (robots as well rehabilitation devices) and social exploitation (sensory and motor rehabilitation). The exchange program proposed has the goal of joining the forces and expertise of the participating partners (Italian Institute of Technology, Bielefeld University, Osaka University and Tokyo University) to help the formation and establishment of an international community of young researchers that shall effectively bridge the involved groups and their expertise in order to be effective in the long term.

The three main areas of research activity address: 1) The development of cognitive functions in humans; 2) The implementation of such functions in human-friendly robots; 3) The implementation and test of rehabilitation devices and protocols. Within these fields, 22 researchers (of nine different nationalities) among the partners staff has been seconded 27 times, for a total of about 73 months spent in the host institutions and through a large number of shorter stays and meetings (about 170 during the 4 years of the project).

CODEFROR has provided important opportunities for Early Stage Researchers to develop novel skills and to establish lasting collaborations and networking, not only through continues exchanges among partners but also thanks to a number of ad hoc training activities offered in the framework of the project.