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Proceedings of the Workshop on Social Robots in Therapy: Focusing on Autonomy and Ethical Challenges

by   Pablo G. Esteban, et al.

Robot-Assisted Therapy (RAT) has successfully been used in HRI research by including social robots in health-care interventions by virtue of their ability to engage human users both social and emotional dimensions. Research projects on this topic exist all over the globe in the USA, Europe, and Asia. All of these projects have the overall ambitious goal to increase the well-being of a vulnerable population. Typical work in RAT is performed using remote controlled robots; a technique called Wizard-of-Oz (WoZ). The robot is usually controlled, unbeknownst to the patient, by a human operator. However, WoZ has been demonstrated to not be a sustainable technique in the long-term. Providing the robots with autonomy (while remaining under the supervision of the therapist) has the potential to lighten the therapists burden, not only in the therapeutic session itself but also in longer-term diagnostic tasks. Therefore, there is a need for exploring several degrees of autonomy in social robots used in therapy. Increasing the autonomy of robots might also bring about a new set of challenges. In particular, there will be a need to answer new ethical questions regarding the use of robots with a vulnerable population, as well as a need to ensure ethically-compliant robot behaviours. Therefore, in this workshop we want to gather findings and explore which degree of autonomy might help to improve health-care interventions and how we can overcome the ethical challenges inherent to it.


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