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Dr. Bruce MacDonald

Associate Professor
Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Research Interests:

  • Machine Learning
  • Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence

 Q1. What is your role within the healthbots project?

 My role is principal investigator of the project, and I am also responsible for the engineering part of the work.

Q2. What excites you about the healthbots project?

I like the project because it is about helping people. I feel technology should be used to help people in ways that people want. I like the focus the project has on finding out what people want and how we can really help, and preserve people's independence and dignity.

Recent publications in 2009:

Broadbent, E., Stafford, R., & MacDonald, B. (2009). Acceptance of healthcare robots for the older population: Review and future directions. International Journal of Social Robotics, 1, 319-330.

Kuo, H., Rabindran, J.M., Broadbent, E., Lee, Y.I., Kerse, N., Stafford, M.Q., & MacDonald, B. (2009). Age and gender factors in user acceptance of healthcare robots. In Proceedings of 18th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, September 27- October 2, 2009 (pp 214-219). Toyama, Japan.

Abbas, T., MacDonald, B. (2009). Robust trajectory segmentation for programming by demonstration. In Proceedings of 18th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, September 27- October 2, 2009 (pp 214-219). Toyama, Japan.

Broadbent, E., Tamagawa, R., Kerse, N., Knock, B., & Patience A. (2009). Retirement home staff and residents' preferences for healthcare robots. In Proceedings of 18th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, September 27- October 2, 2009 (pp 214-219). Toyama, Japan.

Li, X., MacDonald, B., & Watson, C. I. (2009). Expressive facial speech synthesis on a robotic platform. In proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, October 11- 15. IROS: St Louis, United States of America.


 


Dr. Xinyang Li

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Research Interests:

Well, I am quite interested on the cooperation of things. For example, the  co-operation between human and robot, or that between multiple robots working together as a team. I think one of the best things about robots is their ability to help people in an "intelligent" way, although it might only seem to do the repetitive or annoying work. The uses of multiple robots at once is another interesting topic, we can design the way robots work as a team, which can be quite different within various scenarios.

 Q1. What is your role within the healthbots project?

Mostly, I work on the programming tools that are used in this project. Currently, the tools include the TTS  (text to speech) engine which enables the robot to 'speak', and the Virtual Face engine which enables the robot to have a 'human face' visible on the screen. I am very interested in how people feel when the robot communicates with them in different voices and with different faces. The programming tools enable the robot to speak with different voices (the American, British or New Zealand accent) and express different emotions (neutral, happy or specified by the user). In addition, we can programme different facial expressions (happy, sad, angry, etc) with different face models (sex, age, race, etc). It is all very exciting!

Q2. What excites you about the healthbots project?

In comparison with other projects, I like the healthbots project a lot because it is quite closely related to our daily life. The whole project develops at the same time as we do our user experiments, so every week we are learning something new and improving on our findings in a relatively short period of time.

Recent publications in 2009:

Li, X., MacDonald, B., & Watson, C. I. (2009). Expressive facial speech synthesis on a robotic platform. In proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, October 11- 15. IROS: St Louis, United States of America.

Li, X., Watson, C.I., Igic, Aleksandar., & MacDonald, B. (2009). Expressive speech for a virtual talking head. In proceedings of the 2009 Australasian Conference on Robotics and Automation, December 2- 4. Sydney, Australia.


 

Dr. Chandimal Jayawardena

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Research Interests:

  • Neural networks
  • Fuzzy systems
  • Natural language controlled robots
  • Health Informatics

 Q1. What is your role within the healthbots project?

My role is to work together with researchers at the University of Auckland and the Electronic and Telecommunications Research Institute in Korea in human-robot interaction, vital sign measurement, speech generation and recognition, robot programming tools, wireless propagation, health informatics, health psychology and healthcare to develop components of the robotic platform to integrating them.  This also includes the practical aspects of installing robots in older care facilities and in supporting research trials. I guess you could say that I am the glue that helps support all of the sub research teams that make up the Healthbots research agenda.

 Q2. What excites you about the healthbots project?

The Healthbot project is the endeavor of a multidisciplinary team, which consists of researchers coming from robotics, computer science, software engineering, health informatics and health psychology. I find the collaboration of these diverse fields towards the development of a 'Health Care Robot' very interesting and challenging.  

Recent publications in 2009:

Jayawardena, C., Fernando, W.H.R., Karunaratne, C., Saneek, S., Vimukthi, M.L.D.M., & Atapattu, H.T.K. (2009). Criminal identification systems using face recognition and fingerprint identification. In Proceedings of the 5th SLITT Research Symposium, December 22. Malabe, Sri Lanka. 

Jayawardena, C., Watanabe, K., and Izumi, K. (2007). Posture control of robot manipulators with fuzzy voice commands using a fuzzy coach player system.  Advanced Robotics, 21(3-4), 293-328.

Jayawardena, C., Watanabe, K., and Izumi, K. (2007). Controlling a robot manipulator with fuzzy voice commands using a probabilistic neural network. Neural Computing and Applications, 16(2), 155-166.

Jayawardena, C., Watanabe, K., and Izumi, K. (2007). Learning from approximate human decisions by a robot. Journal and Mechatronics and Manufacturing Systems, 19(1), 68-76.


 

Tony Kuo

PhD Candidate in Engineering

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Research Interests:

 My research interest lies within most aspects associated with Human-Robot Interactions. For example, I am interested in the psychological theories on human-robot interaction, the development of multi-modal (mixed-initiative) communication methods and investigating the robot's social intelligence.

 Q1. What is your role within the healthbots project?

 I am a PhD research student and the focus of my research is on developing software for Human-Robot Interactions for Vital Signs Monitoring applications. 

Q2. What excites you about the healthbots project?

This project excites me because it is making the dream of using robots to assist humans in our society one step closer to becoming a reality.  Robots are already established in industrial applications, but now this project bringing robots one step closer to being of service to people in residential care and within aged care facilities. 

Recent publications in 2009:

Kuo, H., Rabindran, J.M., Broadbent, E., Lee, Y.I., Kerse, N., Stafford, M.Q., & MacDonald, B. (2009). Age and gender factors in user acceptance of healthcare robots. In Proceedings of 18th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, September 27- October 2, 2009 (pp 214-219). Toyama, Japan.

  

Chandan Datta

PhD Candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Research Interests:

Q1. What is your role within the healthbots project?

My doctoral research focuses on the exploration of technologies to design ubiquitous 'end user-centric' applications on the Healthbot. End-user programmability is currently not systematically approached in social robotics as a mechanism for addressing adaptability and unpredictable changeability in domain specific applications like the ones on our Healthcare robot. Personalization of healthcare services by end user leads to user empowerment and self-awareness and the useful data the domain experts bring from our field trials enables me to develop programming tools to achieve this goal. I¿ve also been involved in running the field trials at the Selwyn retirement village.

Q2. What excites you about the healthbots project? 

The true meaning of Cybernetics as it was envisioned by its creators is being realized now in projects I¿ve worked on around the world integrating domains of  artificial intelligence, computer vision, mechatronics, cognitive neuroscience, robotics and control systems, information technology,  and user centred interaction and design.  These projects have shown me that robotics as an interdisciplinary research field now is principally application-driven and an application area which in recent times has drawn great attention is healthcare and wellness. It is clear that wellness-related technologies are converging in an online environment and robotics can be is used to support healthcare delivery mechanisms to improve efficacy, safety and quality of life. The Healthbots group at the University of Auckland has the research expertise to understand the complexities of the healthcare system and is one of the few research groups around the world to fully realise the potential of interactive mobile robots for wellness monitoring in the elderly. This was the kind of environment and testbed I was looking for as the next step in deploying real world robot.

¿Past Research

  1. Facebot, Interactive Robots and Media Lab, UAE with Microsoft External Research, USA
  2. Human-like Humanoid, Interactive Robots and Media Lab, UAE + Hanson Robotics, Dallas, USA
  3. Shopping Mall Robot, Neel, HitechRoboticSystemz Ltd, India
  4. Healthbot, University of Auckland and Uniservices Ltd, New Zealand + Yujin Robotics and ED Corp and ETRI, South Korea
  5. Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle, National Robotics Engineering Center, CMU, USA

Recent publications:

  

Ian Chen

Postdoctoral Researcher 

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Research Interests:

  • Augmented Reality, Robot Simulation, 3D Perception

Q1. What is your role within the healthbots project?

I am a software developer in this project. I develop various software modules on the robot and maintain the back-end database server.

Q2. What excites you about the healthbots project? 

The opportunity to create cutting-edge robotic technology for providing healthcare services in New Zealand.

Past Research

Mixed reality simulation for mobile robots

Recent publications in 2009:

I. Y.-H. Chen, B. MacDonald, B. Wünsche, ¿A Flexible Mixed Reality Simulation Framework for Software Development in Robotics¿, Journal of Software Engineering for Robotics. JOSER, Volume 2, No. 2, 2011

I. Y.-H. Chen, B. MacDonald, B. Wünsche, G. Biggs, and T. Kotoku, ¿Analysing Mixed Reality Simulation for Industrial Applications: A Case Study in the Development of a Robotic Screw Remover System¿, in Proceedings of the International Conference on Simulation, Modeling, and Programming for Autonomous Robots. SIMPAR'10, Darmstadt, Germany, November 15-18, 2010.

I. Y.-H. Chen, B. MacDonald, B. Wünsche, ¿Designing a Mixed Reality Framework for Enriching Interactions in Robot Simulation¿, in Proceedings of the International Conference on Computer Graphics Theory and Applications. GRAPP'10, Angers, France, May 17-21, 2010.

I. Y.-H. Chen, B. MacDonald, B. Wünsche, G. Biggs, and T. Kotoku, ¿A Simulation Environment for OpenRTM¿, in Proceedings of the International Symposium on System Integration. SII'09, Tokyo, Japan, November 29, 2009.

I. Y.-H. Chen, B. MacDonald, and B. Wünsche, ¿Mixed Reality Simulation for Mobile Robots¿, in Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. ICRA'09., Kobe, Japan, May 12-17, 2009.

  

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