Growing Old with Socially Assistive Robots: Robots That Can Help with Everyday Activities
Prof. Goldie Nejat, University of Toronto
Thursday June 11, 2-3pm
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Abstract: 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. Assistive 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, Salt, Luke 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 via persuasion and emotions. 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 discuss how assistive robots are and can be used to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bio: Goldie Nejat, PhD, P.Eng. is the Canada Research Chair in Robots for Society and a Professor in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering. She is also the Founder and Director of the Autonomous Systems and Biomechatronics Laboratory (asblab.mie.utoronto.ca). Professor Nejat is an Adjunct Scientist at both the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest. She is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR).
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, program and editorial committees of over thirty-two international conferences and journals on robotics, automation, human-robot interaction and medical devices. Her team’s work has been presented in over 90 media stories including in National Geographic Magazine, Time Magazine, Bloomberg, NBC News, the Telegraph, Reader’s Digest, Zoomer magazine, and the Discovery Channel. In 2020, she received the Engineering Excellence Medal from the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers and the Professional Engineers Ontario. In 2013, she received the Engineers Canada Young Engineer Achievement Award and in 2012, she received the Professional Engineers of Ontario Young Engineer Medal. All awards are for her exceptional achievements in the field of robotics.