The main objective of the coordinated RoboHealth project is the development of assistive and rehabilitation robots in smart hospital spaces, contributing, in this way, to the improvement of the Spanish National Health System. Patients who are targeted by the project are composed of persons with limited mobility, reduced cognitive abilities and with chronic diseases, and represent approximately 10% of the current population of the EU, having a very high degree of dependence on family. The application of robotic technologies can help these persons obtain a higher quality of life by giving them more independence.
The project is aligned with the challenge of Health of the State R&D Plan which explicitly defines Robotics and Nono-technology. Moreover, the euRobotics, an organization created to define the priorities of the new European research funding scheme Horizon2020, explicitly defines among their lines of work for Medical Robotics: 1) assistive robots in health-related environments and 2) rehabilitation robots (including prostheses). In the same way, the latest draft ICT Workprogram for the December, 2013, defines in section Robotics the theme of Health.
There are four principal objectives: a) development of full-size humanoid assistive robots that can augment the physical and cognitive abilities of the patients in Daily Life Activities (DLA): eat, drink, personal hygiene and transport; the robots will have considerable capabilities for biped locomotion and dextrous manipulation, which will require a full-body postural control, b) development of upper-body exoskeletons (shoulder-arm-hand) for the rehabilitation of patients in hospital environments; here the focus will be on over-actuated low-cost systems with novel human-machine interfaces (pressure sensors, eye tracking and touch), c) development of new actuators and nano-materials with embedded flexible sensors, as well as the use of composite materials for making robots lighter, safer and more robust, and d) the creation of intelligent environments for patients that live with robots in hospitals, using new multi-modal interaction paradigm. Finally, these technologies will be evaluated in health-related environments with real patients, for which appropriate experiment protocols and evaluation metrics will be developed.
The complexity of the task at hand necessitates the creation of an interdisciplinary consortium to ensure a successful outcome of the project. Specifically, the consortium will consist of 4 partners, two robotics groups from UC3M, a group on intelligent environments from UPM and one public Hospital of Alcorcón. In addition, the groups from UC3M include the associated sub-group, IMDEA Materiales Institute that will work on results evaluation. All the partners have considerable experience in Medical Robotics, they have successfully collaborated previously, and they have complementary skills and experience.