Tuesday, September 23, 2014


At the beginning of this month, I formally started work on the EU FP7 DREAM project (although the project itself started in April this year). Given that ALIZ-E finished at the end of August, this fit very well for me personally, as it means that I am able to stay in Plymouth. It is coordinated by the University of Skovde (Sweden), with Plymouth (PI Tony Belpaeme) as one of seven partners who between us cover a wide range of expertise. There are two standard robot platforms that will be used as part of the project: the Aldebaran Nao (with which I have plenty of experience in ALIZ-E), and Probo (a green soft-bodied and trunked robot developed by VUB), although the Nao will be the primary focus of development.

(From the nice new flashy project website) The DREAM project...
...will deliver 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.
My work on this will be on the (robot) cognitive and behavioural aspects of this goal. While this is a slight departure from my memory-centred work in ALIZ-E, it remains in the context of child-robot interaction, retains a focus on application-focused development (though for autistic children rather than diabetic children), and maintains an emphasis on achieving autonomous operation (although in the context of supervised interactions). There is an exciting programme of aims and goals in place, and a very good group of partner institutions, so I'm looking forward to it!