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柴田教授のひびきの放送局/Prof. Shibata's Hibikino Station

九州工業大学大学院生命体工学研究科の柴田智広教授の公式ブログです.

Attending Ro-Man 2014 at Edinburgh, Scotland

Here is a brief report of Ro-Man 2014 by Mr. Nishanth Koganti who was a 2nd year of master course student and presented our study on robot vision*1.

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The International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (Ro-Man) is an annual gathering in the area of Human-Robot interaction. The symposium usually includes technological as well as psychological research on all aspects of interactive communication. This year the conference was held between 25 th and 29 th August at the Herriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.Our study titled ‘Real-time Estimation of Human-Cloth Topological Relationship using Depth Sensor for Robotic Clothing Assistance’ was accepted as a poster presentation and I was able to attend the symposium this year. The conference had many attractions to offer and it has been a highly educational experience for me. During my poster session, I have received a lot of valuable comments from many researchers including a keynote speaker Prof. Raja Chatila. This provided a much-needed feedback to improve my study and many possible future directions.

There were five keynote speakers during this symposium and they addressed various aspects of human-robot interactive communication. Prof. David Lane of Heriot-Watt University gave an interesting talk on the importance of human-robot interaction in the remote control of underwater robots. His research group focuses on increasing the autonomy and developing a natural language interface that can improve the efficiency of under-water robots performing survey tasks. On the other-hand, Prof. Raja Chatila gave a more conventional but philosophical talk on whether a robot can ever be a true companion. He discussed some of the major challenges in achieving this goal based on the experiences from his own group.
The regular and poster sessions were scheduled for four days covering a wide range of topics. Broadly speaking these sessions covered topics such as verbal and non-verbal communication interfaces, patient interfaces for rehabilitation purposes and learning frameworks for joint action of robot and human. Unlike many other robotics conferences, there was a strong emphasis on the psychological effect of a communication interface along with the technological novelty in all the sessions.

Another unique feature was that a lot of attention was paid to safety in human-robot interaction. There was one dedicated session on the present safety standards with discussions for a road map on improving these standards. I also attended an interesting workshop titled ‘Novel Patient-Robot interfaces and multimodal interaction in rehabilitation robotics’ in which three speakers presented their studies on the design of patient-robot interfaces such as robotic limbs, exoskeletons and stroke rehabilitation devices. The key message that I took away from this workshop was that the success of any patient-robot interface strongly depends on the input received from health-care personnel and patients and that they should always be involved in the design cycle.

Much more than the content of the sessions themselves, it was the atmosphere of the conference that I found most refreshing. It was a treat to be in a place with like-minded people who research on Human-Robot interaction and with emphasis on topics such as rehabilitation robotics, safety and collaborative work with healthcare personnel. It was a pleasure to share my findings with this supportive community of researchers and students.
On the whole, I had a highly educational as well as fun-filled experience at the Ro-Man conference.
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*1:Koganti, N., Tamei, T., Matsubara, T. and Shibata, T.Real-time Estimation of Human-Cloth Topological Relationship using Depth Sensor for Robotic Clothing AssistanceThe 23rd IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (ROMAN 2014)2014, pp.124-129