New Frontiers in Robot-assisted Therapy and Education

Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn, University of Waterloo, Canada

I have been working for more than 20 years on robot-assisted therapy for children with special needs and supporting independent living for older adults. I realized early on that it is important to foster human-human interaction, rather than trying to replace human contact. This approach has been my guiding principle in all of my application-oriented projects – I argue that we need to find applications where robots have an added value, rather than replacing work that human interaction partners are much better at. Interactions with robots are inherently mechanical in nature, only humans can provide genuine understanding and empathy, based on lived experience. After some general remarks on this topic, I will introduce a few examples of my research team’s recent work at University of Waterloo. None of this research would have been possible without my exceptionally talented and committed research team.

Bio: Kerstin Dautenhahn, IEEE Fellow, AISB Fellow, is Full Professor and Canada 150 Research Chair in Intelligent Robotics at University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada where she directs the Social and Intelligent Robotics Laboratory. Her research areas are social robotics, human-robot interaction, assistive robotics, and cognitive and developmental robotics. She has published more than 400 peer-reviewed publications, including 103 journal articles (H-Index 85), and frequently gives invited keynote presentations at international conferences. She has several senior Editorial Roles in international journals.