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R-MBI

First Interdisciplinary Workshop on Robot-Mediated Behavior Intervention

HOSTED AT: UMASS LOWELL

New England Robotics Experimentation and Validation Center

LOWELL, MASSACHUSETTS, USA

SEPTEMBER 23, 2017

Overview:

Currently 1 in 68 children in the USA are affected by autism. The average cost for a family to care for an autistic child is approximately $60K/year. World-wide prevalence of autism triggered the need for training professionals and developing new technology to efficiently deliver autism interventions.  Technology-aided interventions are considered as an emerging evidence-based practice in autism. Mounting research-evidence shows the potential of physically embodied robots to be used as an effective intervention tool for many children with autism. In the recent years clinical use of commercially available robots like NAO and MILO in autism intervention have increased significantly. Nearly 400 robots are already being actively used to deliver autism interventions. Despite these impressive new developments in robot-mediated autism intervention (RMI), there is a huge gap in understanding among robotics researchers, robotics industries and stakeholders (autistic children, parents/caregiver, and clinicians) on the clinical utility of robots in autism intervention, best practice in RMI, and the robotics technology (hardware and software) required to establish RMI as an effective evidence-based practice (EBP) in autism. This workshop is an effort to bridge that gap.

 

Two of the nation’s leading providers of the most widely used robots in autism therapies (NAO, Softbank Robotics and MILO, RoboKind) have teamed up with academic researchers in robotics and autism to advance the understanding of the use, benefits, and the role of robots in autism intervention and the robotics technology required to be developed to facilitate large-scale clinical deployment of robots. The workshop will discuss the possibility of establishing a frame work for developing a certification standard for RMI.

 

Themes and Target Audience:

 

The workshop will bring robotics researchers and developers (both in academia and industries), clinical researchers in autism, special education teachers, therapists, parents and family members of autistic children together to improve our understanding on the factors that can help establish robot-mediated autism intervention as an effective EBP in autism. Accordingly, the workshop will focus on the following two themes:

 

  1. Best practice in robot-mediated intervention: Creating a common cause for identifying ever better fact-based tools, strategies, and methodologies to establish robot-mediated intervention as an effective EBP in autism.

  2. Robotics technology for robot-mediated intervention: Discussing research challenges in the design and development of robot hardware and software (algorithm, language, interface) that are needed to be addressed to enable seamless integration of robots in existing clinical practice in autism.

 

Schedule and Format:

 

This is a full-day workshop featuring talks by prominent speakers from academia (both robotics and clinical science), industries and clinical practitioners in autism, demonstration of robots commonly being used in behavioral/autism intervention (including MILO and NAO), and a moderated panel discussion.