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Article
Publication date: 16 August 2013

Aimee van Wynsberghe

With the rapid and pervasive introduction of robots into human environments, ethics scholars along with roboticists are asking how ethics can be applied to the discipline…

Abstract

Purpose

With the rapid and pervasive introduction of robots into human environments, ethics scholars along with roboticists are asking how ethics can be applied to the discipline of robotics. The purpose of this paper is to provide a concrete example of incorporating ethics into the design process of a robot in healthcare.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach for including ethics in the design process of care robots used in this paper is called the Care‐Centered Value Sensitive Design (CCVSD) approach. The CCVSD approach presented here provides both an outline of the components demanding ethical attention as well as a step‐by‐step manner in which such considerations may proceed in a prospective manner throughout the design process of a robot. This begins from the moment of idea generation and continues throughout the design of various prototypes. In this paper, this approach's utility and prospective methodology are illustrated by proposing a novel care robot, the “wee‐bot”, for the collection and testing of urine samples in a hospital context.

Findings

The results of applying the CCVSD approach inspired the design of a novel robot for the testing of urine in pediatric oncology patients – the “wee‐bot” robot – and showed that it is possible to successfully incorporate ethics into the design of a care robot by exploring and prescribing design requirements. In other words, the use of the CCVSD approach allowed for the translation of ethical values into technical design requirements as was shown in this paper.

Practical implications

This paper provides a practical solution to the question of how to incorporate ethics into the design of robots and bridges the gap between the work of roboticists and robot ethicists so that they may work together in the design of a novel care robot.

Social implications

In providing a solution to the issue of how to address ethical issues in the design of robots, the aim is to mitigate issues of societal concern regarding the design, development and implementation of robots in healthcare.

Originality/value

This paper is the first and only presentation of a concrete prospective methodology for including ethics into the design of robots. While the example given here is tailored to the healthcare context, the approach can be adjusted to fit another context and/or robot design.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 40 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 13 March 2018

Martina Čaić, Gaby Odekerken-Schröder and Dominik Mahr

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the potential roles for service robots (i.e. socially assistive robots) in value networks of elderly care. Taking an elderly…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the potential roles for service robots (i.e. socially assistive robots) in value networks of elderly care. Taking an elderly person’s perspective, it defines robot roles according to their value co-creating/destroying potential for the elderly user (i.e. focal actor), while acknowledging consequences for a network of users around the elderly (i.e. network actors).

Design/methodology/approach

This qualitative, interpretative study employs in-depth phenomenographic interviews, supported by generative cards activities (i.e. Contextual Value Network Mapping), to elicit an elderly person’s tacit knowledge and anticipate the effects of introducing an automated actor on institutionalized value co-creation practices.

Findings

The proposed typology identifies six roles of socially assistive robots in an elderly person’s value network (enabler, intruder, ally, replacement, extended self, and deactivator) and links them to three health-supporting functions by robots: safeguarding, social contact, and cognitive support.

Research limitations/implications

Elderly people have notable expectations about the inclusion of a socially assistive robot as a new actor in their value networks. The identified robot roles inform service scholars and managers about both the value co-destruction potential that needs to be avoided through careful designs and the value co-creation potential that should be leveraged.

Originality/value

Using network-conscious phenomenographic interviews before the introduction of a novel value proposition sheds new light on the shifting value co-creation interplay among value network actors (i.e. elderly people, formal and informal caregivers). The value co-creation/destruction potential of socially assistive robots and their corresponding roles in care-based value networks offer insights for the design of meaningful robotic technology and its introduction into the existing service networks.

Details

Journal of Service Management, vol. 29 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-5818

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Article
Publication date: 21 March 2016

Joanne Pransky

The following paper is a “Q & A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and…

Abstract

Purpose

The following paper is a “Q & A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry engineer-turned successful business leader, regarding the commercialization and challenges of bringing technological inventions to market while overseeing a company. This paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The interviewee is Aldo Zini, President and CEO of Aethon, Inc., a robotics and software company that has developed an innovative automated platform to improve internal supply logistics. In this interview, Zini shares some of the technical and business details that have led up to the latest version of Aethon’s core product, the TUG, a mobile autonomous robot with more than 450 installs worldwide.

Findings

Zini received a BS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s in Public Management (Health Systems IT) from Carnegie Mellon University. While obtaining his BS degree, Zini did an internship in hospital consulting and became immediately interested in healthcare automation as a way to solve hospital inefficiencies. Zini went on to become the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Automated Healthcare, which developed the first robotic medication dispensing system for hospitals (ROBOT-Rx) and was acquired by McKesson for $67 million. Before joining and investing in Aethon, Zini was Senior Vice President of sales and marketing for TechRx, one of the largest providers of software solutions to the pharmacy industry, which was sold to NDC Corporation for over $200 million.

Originality/value

Zini has been leading the technology revolution in hospital automation for more than 25 years. His contributions to technology-driven companies have led to acquisitions worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars. Zini owns several patents in medication-dispensing technology, and is credited with the development of key methodologies in quantifying the value proposition for several technology platforms deployed in hundreds of hospitals across the country.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 10 December 2018

Outi Tuisku, Satu Pekkarinen, Lea Hennala and Helinä Melkas

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the publicity around the implementation of the Zora robot in elderly-care services in Lahti, Finland. The aim is to discover…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the publicity around the implementation of the Zora robot in elderly-care services in Lahti, Finland. The aim is to discover opinions concerning the use of robots in elderly care as well as the arguments and justifications behind those opinions. Zora is a humanoid robot intended to promote mobility and rehabilitation. The Lahti pilot was the first Zora pilot in Finland in public elderly-care services. It received much publicity, both regionally and nationally.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on an empirical case study on the implementation of the Zora robot in elderly-care services. The data consist of interviews with personnel who operated Zora and comments from the general public about the “Zora” robot. Two data sources were used: 107 comments were collected from online and print media, and the personnel (n=39) who worked with Zora were interviewed. The data were analysed by means of interpretative content analysis.

Findings

The results show that public opinion is mainly negative, but that the commentators apparently have little information about the robot and its tasks. The personnel had more positive views; they saw it as a recreational tool, not as a replacement for their own roles.

Originality/value

There is clearly a need for more information, for a better informed discussion on how robots can be used in elderly care and how to involve the general public in this discussion in a constructive way.

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 32 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

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Article
Publication date: 14 August 2018

Joanne Pransky

The following article is a Q&A interview conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal…

Abstract

Purpose

The following article is a Q&A interview conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent robotic industry engineer-turned successful innovator and leader regarding the challenges of bringing technological discoveries to fruition. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The interviewee is Daniel Theobald, Co-Founder of Vecna Robotics. Vecna Robotics is a recognized global leader in next-generation robotics and automation solutions, with over 20 years of experience in developing cost-effective solutions in the fields of healthcare, education, business, government, material handling and beyond. In this interview, Theobald shares how his mission to empower humanity through transformative technologies led him to co-found and grow the profitable, privately funded Vecna to a 200-employee company that includes an extensive network of global partners and serves a worldwide customer base, without taking outside investment.

Findings

Theobald received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT. Graduating at the top of his class, Theobald received the Henry Ford II Scholar Award, the Hertz Foundation Award and a fellowship from the National Science Foundation. Through his graduate work at the MIT AI Laboratory, he developed web-based control algorithms for a robotic Mars explorer, a progenitor of the NASA rovers Spirit and Opportunity. He served as Principal Investigator for many projects funded by DARPA, NIH, TATRC, US ARMY, ONR and many more. Theobald co-founded Vecna along with other MIT engineers in 1998 on the idea that people matter and that businesses can be profitable, ethical and socially responsible. The company motto “Better Technology, Better World” reflects Theobald’s philosophy that impact is the yardstick by which success is measured.

Originality/value

A humanistic roboticist and ethical innovator, Theobald has decades of experience in leading research scientists and teams of engineers in developing cutting-edge robotics technology. He has over 70 patents issued and pending. He invented and developed several robots, including the famous Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (BEAR), the QC Bot logistics solution and industrial logistics platforms. Theobald/Vecna awards include RBR50 Company Award, winner of the DHL and Dell Robotics Innovation Challenge, Mass Technology Leadership Council Award, Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Award, Northrop Grumman Information Systems Annual Suppliers Excellence Award and the Tibbetts Award for Exceptional Innovation. He is the creator of the Convenient Care Model, which suggests that patients who have a more convenient healthcare experience will act more responsibly and will make better health decisions for themselves. In 2014, he co-founded and is currently president of MassRobotics, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the global advancement of the robotics industry. He also co-created VecnaCares, a Vecna charity that is dedicated to improving health outcomes and access to quality care around the world. Under Theobald’s leadership, Vecna has performed over 170,000 hours of community service.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 45 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 25 August 2020

Gaby Odekerken-Schröder, Cristina Mele, Tiziana Russo-Spena, Dominik Mahr and Andrea Ruggiero

Loneliness and isolation are on the rise, globally threatening the well-being across age groups; global social distancing measures during the COVID-19 crisis have…

Abstract

Purpose

Loneliness and isolation are on the rise, globally threatening the well-being across age groups; global social distancing measures during the COVID-19 crisis have intensified this so-called “loneliness virus”. The purpose of this paper is to develop an integrative framework and research agenda on the role of companion robots in mitigating feelings of loneliness.

Design/methodology/approach

A netnographic analysis of 595 online visual and textual descriptions offer empirical insights about the role of the companion robot Vector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Findings

The contributions of this study are twofold. First, it postulates that companion robots have the potential of mitigating feelings of loneliness (i.e. indicator of well-being). Second, this study contributes to transformative service by developing an integrative framework introducing the roles (personal assistant, relational peer and intimate buddy) that companion robots can fulfill to mitigate feelings of loneliness through building different types of supportive relationships.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed research agenda encourages future service scholars to investigate 1) the role of robots in addressing loneliness, 2) design features that drive adoption of robots, 3) social support for different groups, 4) the operationalization and the measurement of loneliness and 5) an impact analysis of companion robots.

Practical implications

Service providers and policy makers can leverage the insights about how companion robots can help reduce a sense of loneliness.

Originality/value

The integrative framework on loneliness reduction, based on 595 unprompted online contributions issued during the COVID-19 pandemic, offers initial evidence for the impact of companion robots in reducing people's feelings of loneliness.

Details

Journal of Service Management, vol. 31 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-5818

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Article
Publication date: 6 May 2020

Yassine Bouteraa, Ismail Ben Abdallah and Ahmed Elmogy

The purpose of this paper is to design and develop a new robotic device for the rehabilitation of the upper limbs. The authors are focusing on a new symmetrical robot

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to design and develop a new robotic device for the rehabilitation of the upper limbs. The authors are focusing on a new symmetrical robot which can be used to rehabilitate the right upper limb and the left upper limb. The robotic arm can be automatically extended or reduced depending on the measurements of the patient's arm. The main idea is to integrate electrical stimulation into motor rehabilitation by robot. The goal is to provide automatic electrical stimulation based on muscle status during the rehabilitation process.

Design/methodology/approach

The developed robotic arm can be automatically extended or reduced depending on the measurements of the patient's arm. The system merges two rehabilitation strategies: motor rehabilitation and electrical stimulation. The goal is to take the advantages of both approaches. Electrical stimulation is often used for building muscle through endurance, resistance and strength exercises. However, in the proposed approach the electrical stimulation is used for recovery, relaxation and pain relief. In addition, the device includes an electromyography (EMG) muscle sensor that records muscle activity in real time. The control architecture provides the ability to automatically activate the appropriate stimulation mode based on the acquired EMG signal. The system software provides two modes for stimulation activation: the manual preset mode and the EMG driven mode. The program ensures traceability and provides the ability to issue a patient status monitoring report.

Findings

The developed robotic device is symmetrical and reconfigurable. The presented rehabilitation system includes a muscle stimulator associated with the robot to improve the quality of the rehabilitation process. The integration of neuromuscular electrical stimulation into the physical rehabilitation process offers effective rehabilitation sessions for neuromuscular recovery of the upper limb. A laboratory-made stimulator is developed to generate three modes of stimulation: pain relief, massage and relaxation. Through the control software interface, the physiotherapist can set the exercise movement parameters, define the stimulation mode and record the patient training in real time.

Research limitations/implications

There are certain constraints when applying the proposed method, such as the sensitivity of the acquired EMG signals. This involves the use of professional equipment and mainly the implementation of sophisticated algorithms for signal extraction.

Practical implications

Functional electrical stimulation and robot-based motor rehabilitation are the most important technologies applied in post-stroke rehabilitation. The main objective of integrating robots into the rehabilitation process is to compensate for the functions lost in people with physical disabilities. The stimulation technique can be used for recovery, relaxation and drainage and pain relief. In this context, the idea is to integrate electrical stimulation into motor rehabilitation based on a robot to obtain the advantages of the two approaches to further improve the rehabilitation process. The introduction of this type of robot also makes it possible to develop new exciting assistance devices.

Originality/value

The proposed design is symmetrical, reconfigurable and light, covering all the joints of the upper limbs and their movements. In addition, the developed platform is inexpensive and a portable solution based on open source hardware platforms which opens the way to more extensions and developments. Electrical stimulation is often used to improve motor function and restore loss of function. However, the main objective behind the proposed stimulation in this paper is to recover after effort. The novelty of the proposed solution is to integrate the electrical stimulation powered by EMG in robotic rehabilitation.

Details

Industrial Robot: the international journal of robotics research and application, vol. 47 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Book part
Publication date: 17 September 2020

Unlike the historical robots, the contemporary and futuristic ‘working’ robots within organisations are capable of taking decisions without human intervention. This

Abstract

Unlike the historical robots, the contemporary and futuristic ‘working’ robots within organisations are capable of taking decisions without human intervention. This chapter reviews the technical evolution of robots across history with the necessary evolution of operational procedures regarding laws and ethical standards. The objective of this review is to have a futuristic holistic insight into the new generation of robots that are invading our working environment within organisations. Out of the very wide perspective of robotics research field, this chapter only discusses the ‘working’ robots (excluding domestic, social, and warfare robots) in organisations along with its ethical and legal associated issues. To achieve this objective, the recent ‘working robot’ definition and associated expected ethics and laws, termed in this chapter as ‘Ten Commandments’ would be necessary for the utilisation of robotics before releasing ‘intelligent’ robots in the workplace environment. The proposed ‘Ten Commandments’ can be utilised by robot manufacturer to embed ‘machine testimony’ to their products. Providing that such ‘robot ethics’ built as part of the algorithmic structure of robots, a useful innovation like robot–manager is also identified in the organisational environment which can have multiple benefits as discussed in this chapter.

Content available
Article
Publication date: 1 February 2003

Jon Rigelsford

Abstract

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 30 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 20 October 2014

Joanne Pransky

This article is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal…

Abstract

Purpose

This article is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry engineer-turned entrepreneur regarding the evolution, commercialization and challenges of bringing a technological invention to market.

Design/methodology/approach

The interviewee is Dr Yoky Matsuoka, the Vice President of Nest Labs. Matsuoka describes her career journey that led her from a semi-professional tennis player who wanted to build a robot tennis buddy, to a pioneer of neurobotics who then applied her multidisciplinary research in academia to the development of a mass-produced intelligent home automation device.

Findings

Dr Matsuoka received a BS degree from the University of California, Berkeley and an MS and PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She was also a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT and in Mechanical Engineering at Harvard University. Dr Matsuoka was formerly the Torode Family Endowed Career Development Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington (UW), Director of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering and Ana Loomis McCandless Professor of Robotics and Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2010, she joined Google X as one of its three founding members. She then joined Nest as VP of Technology.

Originality/value

Dr Matsuoka built advanced robotic prosthetic devices and designed complementary rehabilitation strategies that enhanced the mobility of people with manipulation disabilities. Her novel work has made significant scientific and engineering contributions in the combined fields of mechanical engineering, neuroscience, bioengineering, robotics and computer science. Dr Matsuoka was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in which she used the Genius Award money to establish a nonprofit corporation, YokyWorks, to continue developing engineering solutions for humans with physical disabilities. Other awards include the Emerging Inventor of the Year, UW Medicine; IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Academic Career Award; Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers; and numerous others. She leads the development of the learning and control technology for the Nest smoke detector and Thermostat, which has saved the USA hundreds of billions of dollars in energy expenses. Nest was sold to Google in 2013 for a record $3.2 billion dollars in cash.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 41 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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