There is currently a scarcity of qualified workers in the healthcare domain. Because of the aging population, there is an increasing need for healthcare personnel, which has resulted in a shortage of trained individuals in the medical field. The need for healthcare workers is projected to increase as the demographic landscape changes and the aging population becomes an increasingly large portion of the population. This confluence of dwindling labor supply and rising demand draws attention to a crucial social and economic problem and underscores the need for focused measures to close the widening skills gap in the healthcare field. 

Under the conditions of this demographic change and epidemiological developments, society is challenged to provide high-quality care that can be financed in the long term. Due to the lack of medical professionals, growing healthcare costs, and the exponential rise in the population of vulnerable groups like people with chronic diseases, and children with developmental disabilities, the use of social robots in the healthcare system is expanding. As a result, innovative digital and robotic systems are increasingly entering the nursing sector, where innovative technologies are intended to support nursing staff and contribute to improving the quality of care. The approach here is aimed at supporting people in need of assistance as well as formal and informal caregivers through autonomous robotic systems. Social robots are employed in the medical field to entertain and educate hospitalized patients about health issues, as well as to assist the frail and sick. They are also employed in the dispensing of medications, rehabilitation, and emotional and cognitive care. Thus, social robots aim to raise the standard and effectiveness of socio-medical care. Additionally, the classification of these systems can be based on their practical use and functions, such as assistance in a social care context, monitoring function, or nursing assistance. Another differentiation approach is the subdivision into service robotics and social-assistive robotics. Social-assistive robotic systems can be differentiated into emotional care and cognitive support functions, while the term service robotics covers technical systems that support humans in performing services and work in a partially or fully automated manner. In addition to informational and sensory functions, service robotics are also capable of locomotion and/or performing complex tasks consisting of multiple steps and materials.

Consequently,  human-robot collaboration in healthcare will increase since it might be very beneficial to relieve medical personnel of their technical systems.  Many obstacles stand in the way of human-robot interaction in healthcare, including safety concerns, acceptability issues, appropriateness, usefulness, the worry that robots may replace human carers, and the importance of adapting robot behaviors according to individuals’ needs. For this reason, involving end users from the outset is crucial to promoting acceptance of these technological systems and digital assistance. There is a need for innovative approaches to assistance, including the ability of self-management, which has become an increasingly important requirement of healthcare in Europe and beyond. Being able to self-manage one’s health requires high levels of health literacy and continuous collaboration between caregivers and health professionals. For people to manage health on a long-term basis, they need to be able to understand and assess health-related information to make informed decisions. They need to collaborate closely with healthcare professionals, ask the right questions, and take control of their circumstances related to their health condition. Hence, innovative interventions embedded with e-health applications are critical to improving the health of the population and the health literacy of this population.  

Several initiatives worldwide took care of these aspects focusing on the problem of developing a new generation of innovative technologies to face an aging society and its growing needs. Novel assistive solutions and technologies are necessary to properly deal with the increasing demand for personalized assistance and support of multiple users in different scenarios. Such solutions should be capable of effectively merging heterogeneous and potentially conflicting requirements coming from different stakeholders bridging the gap between the health needs of users and clinical and social requirements. In this context, the increasing demand for personalized, continuous, and adaptive assistance from the frail population can be effectively addressed only through a multidisciplinary approach. The synergetic contribution of different research areas e.g. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet-of-Things (IoT), Robotics, and Social Science is crucial for delivering innovative and impactful results and technologies.

Workshop Topics

This event aims at attracting works on the following topics (but not limited to):

  • Cognitive Robotics
  • Social-Aware and User-Aware Interaction
  • Cultural-Awareness Human-Robot Interaction
  • Personalized and Adaptive Robotic Assistance
  • Activity monitoring systems (indoor and outdoor)
  • Object and Activity Recognition
  • Trustworthy Social Robots
  • Explainable AI with Social Robots
  • Co-Design of Assistive Solutions
  • Mixed-Initiative Interaction
  • Ethical Issues in Social Robotics for frailty management
  • AI Techniques Applied to Assistive Scenarios
  • Evaluation methodologies and experiences for social robots
  • Multi-modal perception and human behavioral modeling
  • other related topics