Using AI-Enhanced Social Robots to Improve Children’s Healthcare Experiences

Mary Ellen Foster*, Samina Ali, Sasha Litwin, Jennifer Parker, Ronald P. A. Petrick, David Harris Smith, Jennifer Stinson, Frauke Zeller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

17 Citations (Scopus)
143 Downloads (Pure)


This paper describes a new research project that aims to develop an autonomous and responsive social robot designed to help children cope with painful procedures in hospital emergency departments. While this is an application domain where psychological interventions have been previously demonstrated to be effective at reducing pain and distress using a variety of devices and techniques, in recent years, social robots have been trialled in this area with promising initial results. However, until now, the social robots that have been tested have generally been teleoperated, which has limited their flexibility and robustness, as well as the potential to offer personalized, adaptive procedural support. Using co-design techniques, this project plans to define and validate the necessary robot behaviour together with participant groups that include children, parents and caregivers, and healthcare professionals. Identified behaviours will be deployed on a robot platform, incorporating AI reasoning techniques that will enable the robot to adapt autonomously to the child’s behaviour. The final robot system will be evaluated through a two-site clinical trial. Throughout the project, we will also monitor and analyse the ethical and social implications of robotics and AI in paediatric healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Robotics. ICSR 2020
EditorsAlan R. Wagner, David Feil-Seifer, Kerstin S. Haring, Silvia Rossi, Thomas Williams, Hongsheng He, Shuzhi Sam Ge
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783030620561
ISBN (Print)9783030620554
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2020
Event12th International Conference on Social Robotics 2020 - Golden, United States
Duration: 14 Nov 202018 Nov 2020

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference12th International Conference on Social Robotics 2020
Abbreviated titleICSR 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Child-robot interaction
  • Socially assistive robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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