|ALHADDAD AHMAD YASER||Cycle: XXXI |
Section: Computer Science and Engineering
Tutor: AMIGONI FRANCESCO
Advisor: BONARINI ANDREA Major Research topic
:Safe and Adaptive Social Robots for Children with AutismAbstract:
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that is diagnosed during early childhood and affects the neurodevelopment. Traditionally, intervention sessions for ASD have been carried out through a human therapist. However, there has been promising potential of using robotics in interventions based on the anecdotal evidence reported by many individual studies. Most of the studies conducted in robot-mediated-interventions (RMI), if not all, did not pay attention to safety concerns regarding the usage of social robots.
Children with ASD often exhibit aggressive behaviours that cause a lot of troubles to their family and caregivers. The extent of such aggressive behaviours could even affect their peers and the people around them. Children diagnosed with ASD often exhibit stereotypical repetitive and stimming behaviors as a response to sensory overload. When their body’s senses are overwhelmed by too many stimuli in the environment, they might exhibit shut down, loud outbursts or aggressive behaviors in an attempt to escape from unpleasant sensations. This response could intensify to meltdowns, that is the temporary loss of behavioural control. Biting, hitting, throwing objects and others are physical signs that usually associated with meltdowns.
How will safe social robots mitigate potential risks associated with aggressive behaviors? In order to answer this question, this project has two main objectives. The first objective involves investigating potential harmful scenarios to the children safety, especially when social robot is present, and to quantify one of such scenarios. The identification of the scenarios will be based on the existing literature detailing behaviours exhibited during sessions among children with ASD. One scenario will be mimicked in the lab environment to quantify the harm level due to mishandling of a robot. The second objective investigates how the robot design can be made safer through either hardware solution/s and software implementation. The hardware solution will investigate the applicability of soft materials in mitigating impacts levels while the software solution will be based on an algorithm to identify potential risky scenario to prevent consequence harm. The research outcomes will contribute greatly towards safer interactions between children with ASD and small interactive robotic toys.