Ongoing Research Projects

Development of Robot-Enhanced therapy for children with AutisM sprectrum disorders

The EC-funded project DREAM, running from 2014 to 2018, aims at delivering the next generation robot-enhanced therapy (RET). It develops clinically relevant interactive capacities for social robots that can operate autonomously for limited periods under the supervision of a psychotherapist. DREAM will also provide policy guidelines to govern ethically compliant deployment of supervised autonomy RET. The core of the DREAM RET robot is its cognitive model which interprets sensory data (body movement and emotion appearance cues), uses these perceptions to assess the child’s behaviour by learning to map them to therapist-specific behavioural classes, and then learns to map these child behaviours to appropriate robot actions as specified by the therapists.

Mark Coeckelbergh has been working on the "ethics" work package of the project.

[source: dream2020.eu]

Wearable Robots - Augmentation, Assistance or Substitution of Human Motor Functions

Wearable Robots (WRs) is an emerging field of personal devices that are integrated parts of human functioning, and that are constructed of typical robotic components such as actuators, sensors and control algorithms. Where conventional robots were typically intended for use in industrial environments to help in tedious and repetitive tasks and tasks requiring high precision, the situation is currently evolving to one where there is an increasing direct physical interaction between robot and human operator. The interaction with humans in WRs is not only physical, but also includes cognitive aspects, as in the interaction, control of functions is typically shared by human and machine. WRs can be used either to augment, train or supplement motor functions or to replace them completely. Wearable Robots operate alongside human limbs, as is the case in orthotic robots, exoskeletons or robotic suits. WRs are expected to find applications in Medical, Industrial and Consumer Domains, such as neuro-rehabilitation, worker support, or general augmentation. As WRs continuously interact with humans in multiple situations, Human Robot Interaction, Ergonomics, and Ethical, Legal and Societal (ELS) considerations, as well as early involvement of stakeholders are of essential interest. This Action focuses on the European integration of different underlying disciplines in science and engineering, as well as on engaging of stakeholders to improve WR technology and its societal impact.

[source: wearablerobots.eu]

Past Research Projects

Stakeholders Acting Together On the ethical impact assessment of Research and Innovation

Mark Coeckelbergh was involved in the EU SATORI project from 2014 until December 1, 2015. The project, running from 2014 until 2017 and comprising 17 partners from 12 countries, aims to develop a common European framework for ethical assessment of research and innovation. Ultimately, the project seeks to establish a permanent platform around the framework to secure ongoing learning and attunement among stakeholders in ethical assessment.

SATORI combines two existing traditions in ethics: research ethics, which is the ethical reflection on scientific practice, and technology ethics, which is the ethical study of technology, engineering, and innovation. Special attention is being paid on the ethical assessment of societal, health, and environmental impacts of research and innovation, including impacts that concern freedoms, rights, and the just distribution of opportunities, risks, and resources.

[source: satoriproject.eu]