News Release

Healthcare, Homecare and Robotics: Where to from here?

UC San Diego Forum on Nov. 8, 2018 to focus on the future of robotics and healthcare 


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These clinicians, technologists and academics working at the cutting edge of healthcare and robotics will share advances and discuss upcoming challenges at the Contextual Robotics Institute Forum on Healthcare Robotics.

San Diego, CA, October 10, 2018-- World-renowned experts working at the intersection of robotics and healthcare will convene at UC San Diego on November 8, 2018 for the annual Contextual Robotics Institute Forum, this year focused on Healthcare Robotics. Clinicians, technologists from industry, and academics all working in dynamic fields connecting healthcare and robotics will share insights, discuss upcoming challenges, and map out the collaborations required to make advances.

“The number of people in the world aged 60 and older is expected to double by 2050 and triple by 2100. What roles will robotics, autonomy and real-time contextual awareness play in empowering this rapidly aging population to maintain independence? That’s just one of the many big issues that we are addressing through our 2018 Forum and the Contextual Robotics Institute,” said Henrik Christensen, director of the Contextual Robotics Institute, Qualcomm Chancellor's Chair of Robot Systems and a Professor of Computer Science at UC San Diego. “As we continue to grow and diversify the robotics ecosystem in Southern California, getting together to tackle the big issues is an important part of our work.”

Panels on surgical robotics, cognitive and therapeutic robotics, robots for rehabilitation, sensory and physical augmentation, as well as industry and government perspectives will highlight the latest advances in the field, and tease out the tough remaining questions. 

“Twenty percent of the world’s population has a physical, cognitive or sensory impairment, and also want to live independently – robots can help address this need” said Laurel Riek, a professor of computer science and engineering at UC San Diego and director of the Healthcare Robotics Lab, who will be speaking at the Forum. “Robots can also support caregivers and the clinical workforce—who are both overloaded and experience high rates of injury, illness, and burnout themselves. Robots represent an incredible opportunity to help fill care gaps and support all stakeholders both physically and cognitively. We need stakeholders from diverse vantage points to work together to ensure new technologies are safe, effective, usable, and reliable. Academic researchers, clinicians, people with disabilities, caregivers, industry teams, and health administrators all need to be at the table to ensure the solutions will work for everyone involved.”

“The interdisciplinary nature of this conversation is so important,” said Michael Yip, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and member of the Contextual Robotics Institute at UC San Diego who will also be speaking at the Forum. “My work on surgical robotics requires the expertise of clinicians and engineers from all backgrounds to make sure we’re creating the right solutions that address a true, unmet need. In my talk I’ll discuss how we need to incorporate emerging fields like machine learning to help us in this pursuit, as well.” 

The 15 experts sharing their work in four panel sessions include Cynthia Breazeal from MIT’s Media Lab, who will talk about her research on social robots and emotional engagement as more people begin to live with conversational AI in the home; Santiago Horgan, director of the UC San Diego School of Medicine’s Center for the Future of Surgery, who will share a vision of robotics in a clinical setting; Michelle Johnson from the University of Pennsylvania, discussing user-driven design of rehabilitation and service robots for low-resource and community-based context; Allison Okamura from Stanford, who will discuss new types of interfaces that allow human operators to experience haptics in virtual and tele-operated environments for rehabilitation and assistance; and Cory Kidd, CEO of Catalia Health, who will share how his company uses robotic interfaces to engage patients through interactive conversations. Catalia Health's robots are being used by multiple healthcare systems nationwide for chronic disease management and medication adherence.

A full list of panels and speakers is available here, thanks to the organizing committee: Christensen, Riek and Yip.

 In addition to presentations and panels, the Forum includes a Technology Showcase with hands-on demos of various robotic technologies developed at the Contextual Robotics Institute, including an affordable smart wheelchair and autonomous vehicles. 

EvoNexus, a non-profit startup technology incubator and hub for the startup community, is sponsoring the Forum.

Register today to reserve your spot—seating is limited.

Media Contacts

Katherine Connor
Jacobs School of Engineering