Research Activities

Our research in the areas of robotics and artificial intelligence with with emphasis on assistive, rehabilitation and social robotics has been conducted in various national and international research projects. Many of the projects have been supported by and realised in our long-term focus areas.

Focus areas

Robot House

Research Facility (Human-Robot Interaction)

Contacts
Dr Patrick Holthaus, Prof. Farshid Amirabdollahian
Description

Robot House is a unique facility for researching human-robot interaction. It provides a realistic home environment where academic and industry researchers can test how robots can provide physical and cognitive support to humans and looks towards a future where robotic companions may play a greater role in caring for older people.

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Kaspar

Social Robot (Autism Research)

Information

 Website

Contacts
Prof. Farshid Amirabdollahian, Dr Ben Robins
Description

Kaspar is a child-sized humanoid robot designed as a social companion to improve the lives of children with autism and other communication difficulties.

By interacting and behaving in a child-like way, Kaspar helps teachers and parents support children with autism to overcome the challenges they face in socialising and communicating with others.


Ongoing projects

Hospital@home: A virtual ward concept to bridge the health and social care gap

Dinwoodie Charitable Company Research Grant

Information

 01/2024 - 31/2025

Local investigators

Prof. Farshid Amirabdollahian (PI), Dr Patrick Holthaus, Dr Gabriella Lakatos, Angela Dickinson

Partners

Princess Alexandra Hospital

Description

While there is a consensus that integration between healthcare and social care is the necessary step to a sustainable solution for healthy ageing, significant challenges remain that affect such integration. Issues such as chronic staff shortages as well as social inequalities impact on such integration. We hypothesise that a sustainable healthy ageing is possible via 'virtual ward at home' concept, where elements of staff shortages and healthcare inequalities are targeted using virtualisation of a standardised service.

SWAG: Soft Wearable Assistive Garments for Human Empowerment

Horizon 2020 Research and innovation action

Information

 Website
 11/2023 - 10/2027

Coordinator

TWI Hellas

Local investigators

Prof. Farshid Amirabdollahian (PI), Dr Patrick Holthaus, Dr Gabriella Lakatos, Dr Diego R. Faria, Dr Felipe Romero Moreno

Partners

Universität Heidelberg, Trafisense Monoprosopi Idiotiki Kefalaiouchiki Etaireia, Elliniko Mesogeiako Panepistimio, Scuola Superiore S'Anna, Fundacio Eurecat, Institut Jožef Stefan, Universiteit Twente, Iuvo, Roessingh, Brunel University London, Imperial College London

Description

SWAG aims to explore a fundamentally new approach to engineering soft structures that omit fully rigid materials for inflatable ones made from high-strength fabrics and films when manufacturing human-assistive exoskeletal devices that target strain-prone segments of the human body (i.e. lower body and core). Such soft wearable adaptive garments with actuation capabilities offer higher variable stiffness and force-to-weight ratios compared to other existing methods, and simultaneously entirely conform to each joint's intricate kinematics. Because of this, new design approaches can be used as building blocks to realise complete assistance for multi-degree-of-freedom joints, such as the ankle or hip, by adapting flexible and conforming motions achieved by continuum robot designs.

FLUIDITY: Fluidity in simulated human-robot interaction with speech interfaces

EPSRC New Investigator Award

Information

 05/2023 - 04/2026

Coordinator

Swansea University (Julian Hough)

Local investigators

Dr Frank Förster

Description

The FLUIDITY project aims (1) to to develop a toolkit for building and testing interactive robot models in a simulated environment with human participants in a Virtual Reality (VR) HRI environment and (2) to increase the interaction fluidity between humans and robots when engaged in multimodal, physical interactions.

EMERGENCE: Tackling Frailty - Facilitating the Emergence of Healthcare Robots from Labs into Service

EPSRC Network+ project

Information

 Website
 09/2021 - 08/2024

Coordinator

University of Nottingham (Praminda Caleb-Solly)

Local investigators

Prof. Farshid Amirabdollahian (PI), Dr Patrick Holthaus, Dr Gabriella Lakatos

Partners

University of Sheffield (Mark Hawley), Sheffield Hallam Universtiy (Alessandro Di Nuovo), Heriot-Watt University (Mauro Dragone)

Description

The EMERGENCE network aims to create a sustainable eco-system of researchers, businesses, end-users, health and social care commissioners and practitioners, policy makers and regulatory bodies in order to build knowledge and capability needed to enable healthcare robots to support people living with frailty in the community.


Past projects

AutoQGen: Automatic question generation for Occupational Health Assessment

Knowledge Transfer Project

Information

 Website
 06/2021 - 06/2023

Local investigators

Prof. Farshid Amirabdollahian, Yi Sun (supervisor)

Local researchers

Alok Sahu (associate)

Partners

Heales Enterprises

Description

In this project, UH will help Heales Enterprises Ltd (HEL) to set up an automatic question generation system using advanced Machine Learning methods. This system will be used in Occupational Health Assessment. With the introduction of medically supported Artificial Intelligence (AI), HEL will gain a competitive advantage in the Occupational Health market. The AI will also enable auto-completion of Management Advice reducing OHA and, in future, OHP time to compile reports.

EMBOA: Affective loop in Socially Assistive Robotics as an intervention tool for children with autism

EU Erasmus+ mixed research and didactic project

Information

 Website
 09/2019 - 08/2022

Coordinator

Gdańsk University of Technology

Local investigators

Dr Ben Robins (PI), Dr Luke Wood, Dr Gabriella Lakatos, Dr Patrick Holthaus

Partners

Istanbul Teknik Universitesi, Yeditepe University, Macedonian Association for Applied Psychology, Universität Augsburg

Description

EMBOA project (Affective loop in Socially Assistive Robotics as an intervention tool for children with autism) aims at the development of guidelines and practical evaluation of applying emotion recognition technologies in robot-supported intervention in children with autism. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suffer from multiple deficits, and limited social and emotional skills are among those, that influence their ability to involve in interaction and communication.

Kaspar and language: A feasibility study of using Kaspar, a humanoid robot for speech and language therapy for children with learning disabilities

Baily Thomas Charitable Fund Research grant

Information

 Website
 02/2022 - 07/2022

Local investigators

Prof. Farshid Amirabdollahian (PI), Dr Ben Robins, Dr Luke Wood, Dr Gabriella Lakatos

Description

Whilst a vast amount of research has investigated communication interventions and their impact on children with Speech Language and Communication Needs (SLCN), the possibility of using state of the art robotics technology, specifically focused on SLC therapies has had very little investigation. This research will be a pioneering study, using the humanoid robot Kaspar as a therapeutic tool for children with learning disabilities in need of SLC therapies to investigate how robotic technology could help these children.

Kaspar Explains: The impact of explanation on human-robot trust using an educational platform

UKRI TAS pump priming project

Information

 Website
 07/2021 - 06/2022

Local investigators

Prof. Farshid Amirabdollahian (PI), Dr Ben Robins, Dr Patrick Holthaus, Dr Gabriella Lakatos, Dr Luke Wood

Local researchers

marina

Partners

Kings College London (Mohammad Mousavi, Hana Chockler), Garston Manor School, Compusult

Description

The project focuses on identifying how causal explanation can influence trust in an educational robotic platform, the Kaspar robot. We hypothesise that a robot’s ability to explain its educational actions would make it a more trustworthy educational tool, for the pupils, their parents and their teachers. This may in turn make the robot-mediation more successful.

CuPick: Glinwell / Uni of Herts – Picking System

Knowledge Transfer Project

Information

 Website
 03/2019 - 03/2022

Local investigators

Prof. Farshid Amirabdollahian, Dr Kheng Lee Koay (supervisor), Dr Catherine Menon (supervisor)

Local researchers

Dr Ataollah Ramezan Shirazi (associate)

Partners

Glinwell

Description

This is a KTP application for joint-development of a cucumber harvest robot for harvesting cucucmber grown in a greenhouse.

Robot House 2.0: Infrastructure for the Study of Smart Home and Autonomous Robotic Systems

EPSRC strategic equipment grant

Information

 Website
 03/2017 - 03/2019

Local investigators

Prof. Kerstin Dautenhahn (PI), Prof. Farshid Amirabdollahian (PI), John Senior, Michael L Walters, Dr Kheng Lee Koay

Local researchers

Dr Patrick Holthaus

Description

The goal of this proposal was to seek funding to extend the functionalities of the robotics hardware in the University of Hertfordshire's (UH) Robot House (RH), creating the Robot House 2.0 - and, importantly, to make it accessible to other research groups. RH2.0 was to become an easily accessible hub for UK universities and industry conducting research into smart home and robotics technology.

SocCred: Assuring safety and social credibility

AAIP small feasibility project

Information

 Website
 02/2019 - 06/2019

Local investigators

Dr Catherine Menon (PI), Dr Patrick Holthaus

Description

The SocCred (Assuring safety and social credibility) project was a small feasibility project to identify and characterise the link between social credibility and safety, funded by the AAIP (Assuring Autonomy International Programme). An interactive experiment indicated that users are more likely to accept the safety assessment of a robot that they consider socially intelligent instead of one lacking social competency, which users considered necessary to cross-check these against their own experience.


The projects section is a work in progress list and subject to frequent changes. It is therefore incomplete and includes, at this stage, only a selection of projects. If you want to suggest an update, please send us an e-mail.