My research is situated in the areas of human robot interaction and healthcare robotics. I focus on the design of new technologies that can support people with disabilities and their families at home and in their communities, as well as clinicians and patients in acute care.
My students and I adopt a health equity, human-centered, community-driven approach to our work. We center the voices and ideas of people who are marginalized, to help ensure the technology we create is both well-aligned to their needs and reflective of their ideas. We try to avoid technosolutionism by adopting critical health technology design approaches, and are committed to exploring the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of our research.
Our research informs work across multiple disciplines, including: human-robot teaming, robotics, health informatics, design, and public health. You can read more of our recent papers here, and learn more about working in the lab and the kinds of research we do here.
Here are a few recent projects:
Cognitively assistive robots to support people with dementia and their caregivers
For the past several years we have been co-designing new technologies to support people with mild cognitive impairment as well as those with late stage dementia. This includes social robots that can extend access by supporting cognitive neurorehabilitation at home and robots to support caregivers at mealtimes (Kubota et al. HRI 2023, HRI 2022, HRI 2020; Guan et al., CHI 2021, Moharana et al., HRI 2019).
Robots in acute and critical care
We have several projects centered on supporting clinicians and patients in acute care environments, including the emergency department (ED), as well as critical care (e.g., the ICU). Here, we have been designing low-cost, open source telemedical robots that can keep healthcare workers safe, and extend access to patients, particularly those from low-resource settings. (Matsumoto et al., HRI 2023, Pervasive Health 2021).
We are also designing new methods for understanding clinical team behavior in real time, and use that to inform how robots should act, such as when supporting teams in high-acute situations (Taylor et al., HRI 2022, ICRA 2021, CSCW 2019), and exploring the design of resilient hospitals of the future (Taylor et al., CSCW 2022).
Coordination methods to improve autonomy for physically assistive robots
We do a lot of basic research which informs these domains. For example, some of our recent work focuses on facilitating autonomy - it is important that robots are able to do the right thing, at the right time, and in the right way, especially in safety critical settings. For example, we created a series of methods to model human-human and human robot synchrony that can inform coordinated robot behavior, validated in experimental settings (Iqbal et al., T-AC 2015, T-RO 2016, RA-L 2017, ICRA 2021).
Critical health technology design
We are also work on critical health technology design, and ELSI issues. For example, we've explored how to engage in value-centric design processes when creating assistive and personalized robots for people with dementia that support their autonomy (Kubota et al., We Robot 2021, Guan et al., CHI 2021), ways to reflect social models of disability to reframe assistive robotics (Lee and Riek, THRI 2022, THRI 2018), and ways to design for exit (Bjorling and Riek, We Robot 2022)