News Release

Researchers receive $2.3M in NSF grants to investigate how robots can be used to provide personalized healthcare

San Diego, Calif., Nov. 6, 2019--Computer science professor Laurel Riek is the lead researcher on $2.3 million in new grants from the National Science Foundation to investigate how intelligent, personalized robots can be used to support neurorehabilitation for adults with mild cognitive impairment and adults recuperating from a stroke.

Riek directs the Healthcare Robotics Lab at the University of California San Diego, focusing on human-robot teaming, computer vision and healthcare engineering. Her team works on building systems able to sense, learn from, and adapt to people. Her research has applications in safety-critical, uncertain environments, including hospitals, homes, and work sites.

Goto Flickr
Researchers will be using this Kuri robot for the TAILORED grant. 

Riek received a $1.2 million NSF grant, titled "TAILORED: Training for Independent Living through Observant Robots and Design", in collaboration with UC San Diego clinical psychologist Elizabeth Twamley and computer scientist Kamalika Chadudhuri to create human-centered robotics technology that will provide personalized neurorehablititation for older adults with mild cognitive impairment. The condition, which affects 16 million people in the United States, is characterized by cognitive functioning difficulties, for example struggling with problem solving, scheduling, and medication management.

"Harnessing technology to provide cognitive support and rehabilitation for older adults could potentially assist millions of people to maintain or improve their functioning and quality of life, and maintain their ability to live independently,” the researchers wrote. 

The team will pioneer innovative methods to deliver and sustain neurorehabilitation; create new approaches to support long-term robot learning in real-world environments; and contribute new methods to the fields of human-robot interaction, aging science, and behavioral science. 

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An illustration of how a combination of neuroscience, robotics, and machine learning research will intersect on the HEBB grant.

Riek also received another new grant, "HEBB: Human-Robot Enabled System to Induce Brain Behavior Adaptations", in collaboration with researchers at UC Davis, part of a $1.1 million grant from NSF. The project explores ways to create new intelligent technologies to support  people who have had strokes--which number about 800,000 each year in the United States. 

"The objective of this [project] is to create an embodied, intelligent robotic system that provides personalized, adaptive feedback to induce neuromotor plasticity, mediate motor adaptation, and leverage meaningful, lasting changes in motor function,” the researchers wrote. 

The team will determine performance feedback to optimize motor learning and the capacity for neuroplasticity to promote meaningful behavioral change. This collective information, combined with machine learning, will be used to personalize the interactions necessary to maximize motor behavioral changes.

In addition to her appointment in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Riek also holds an appointment in the Department of Emergency Medicine at UC San Diego. 


Media Contacts

Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering