Sethu Vijayakumar leads Horizon 2020 project using assistive robotics in healthcare

[2021] Professor of Robotics Sethu Vijayakumar takes the lead on new Horizon 2020 project Harmony, which will use autonomous robots to enhance the human-centred environments found in healthcare.

Person sat in hospital bed eating meal with doctor holding clipboard and robot next to bed.
Concept of HARMONY H2020 Project

The central goal of the Harmony project is to enable robust, flexible and safe autonomous mobile manipulation technology for use in human-centred environments. The team aim to make fundamental contributions in cognitive mechatronic technologies, improving on both the machines used and awareness of these technologies. The success of the project relies on integrating such technologies into a user-intuitive framework that will ultimately enable robotics mobile manipulation systems that can seamlessly integrate into our existing spaces.

Edinburgh's role in the project is to develop robust, flexible and adaptive dual arm manipulation on mobile loco-manipulation platforms, addressing both compliant, real-time control and dynamic motion planning under challenging environments. Target use cases for the project lie in the healthcare domain, and the consortium will work with partner hospitals to deploy and test their robots in real-world settings.

The Harmony project started in February 2020 and will last for three and a half years. Professor Sethu Vijayakumar leads the Edinburgh-based team including Alex Li, Vladimir Ivan and Mohsen Khadem. The team will collaborate with project partners ETH Zurich, TU Delft, University of Bonn, University of Twente, University Hospital Zurich, Karolinska University, CREATE, ABB and more. The project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme totalling €7.2million; Edinburgh's share is €950,000.

We are delighted to team up with a world leading consortium of roboticists, industry and healthcare partners to develop solutions in a topical domain such as assistive robotics for healthcare. With the generous support of the EU H2020 programme, we will make fundamental advances in robotic perception, navigation and close contact manipulation to realise cutting edge advancements in live settings such as care homes and hospitals.

Sethu Vijayakumar
Personal Chair in Robotics at School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh and Director of the Edinburgh Centre of Robotics 

Harmony: Enhancing Healthcare with Assistive Robotic Mobile Manipulation

The Harmony project consists of a diverse, interdisciplinary team encompassing five universities, one research organisation, one multinational company, one small-medium enterprise (SME) and two hospitals across seven European nations. The consortium are united by the central aim of developing assistive robotic mobile manipulation technologies, designed for us in hospital environments. The work of the consortium will enable robust, flexible and safe autonomous mobile manipulation robots for use in human-centred environments by making fundamental contributions in cognitive mechatronic technologies.

Population growth, ageing societies, and changing disease patterns are expected to drive greater demand for well- trained health workers in the next 15 years.

World Health Organisation, 2015

The consortium will develop perception to formalise an object-based world representation; robotic localisation and mapping for an object-based environment; motion planning to provide adaptive, congestion-free motion plans in human-centred spaces; learning methods for grasping and manipulation from demonstration via an immersive control interface; robust and compliant whole-body motion planning and control for interacting with unknown objects; and human-robot interaction to deliver safety and acceptability recommendations for the use of mobile manipulators in human-centred environments.

Related Links

Read more about the Edinburgh branch of the project on the SLMC website

Harmony: Enhancing healthcare with assistive robotic mobile manipulation

Sethu Vijayakumar on how robots could tackle healthcare challenges and save lives 

Sethu Vijayakumar's personal page