Workshop: Human-Robot Medical Interaction

Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge

March 23rd, 2020

15th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction

Tentative Programme

Time Talk Speaker
9:20 –
Opening and Introduction
9:40 – 10:00 Plenary talk           Thrishantha Nanayakkara
10:00 – 10:20 Plenary talk             Mazdak Ghajari
10:20 – 10:40 Plenary talk            Nejra Van Zalk
10:40 – 11:00 Plenary talk       Matthew Allen
11:00 – 11:30Coffee break and Poster Session
11:30 – 11:50 Plenary talk           Mark Slack
11:50 – 12:10 Plenary talk             Luke Hares
12:10 – 12:30 Panel Discussion         
12:30 – 14:00 Lunch Break and Poster Session
14:00 – 14:20 Plenary talk                 Pietro Valdastri
14:20 – 14:40 Plenary talk                  Helge A. Wurdemann
14:40 – 15:00 Plenary talk                  Dana Damian
15:00 – 15:20Plenary talk    Jonathan Rossiter
15:20 – 15:40 Panel Discussion
15:40 – 17:00 BIRL Lab tour, refreshments & Open discussion for future collaborations and events


Advances in Soft Robotics, Haptics, AI and simulation have changed the medical robotics field, allowing robotics technologies to be deployed in medical environments. In this context, the relationship between doctors, robotics devices, and patients is fundamental, as only with the synergetic collaboration of the three parties results in medical robotics can be achieved. This workshop focuses on the use of soft robotics technologies, sensing, AI and Simulation, to further improve medical practitioner training, as well as the creation of new tools for diagnosis and healthcare through the medical interaction of humans and robots. The Robo-patient is more specifically the idea behind the creation of sensorised robotic patient with controllable organs to present a given set of physiological conditions. This is both to investigate the embodied nature of haptic interaction in physical examination, as well as the doctor-patient relationship to further improve medical practice through robotics technologies. The Robo-doctor aspect is also relevant, with robotics prototypes performing, or helping to perform, medical diagnosis. In the workshop, key technologies as well as future views in the field will be discussed both by expert and new upcoming researchers.

Confirmed Speakers

Thrishantha Nanayakkara

Dr. Thrishantha Nanayakkara is the director of the Morph Lab in Imperial College London. Thrishantha’s research in controllable stiffness robots tries to understand how physical mechanisms in the body and environment contribute to solve computational problems to achieve accurate perception and stable action in dynamic environments.

Mazdak Ghajari

Dr. Mazdak Ghajari leads a group of researchers at the Human Experience, Analysis and Design (HEAD), Imperial College London. Their current focus is biomechanics of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and designing advanced protective devices, through the use of advanced computational techniques, design tools, and collaborations with neurologists and

Nejra Van Zalk

Dr. Nejra van Zalk is a lecturer and researcher in psychology and human factors at the Dyson School of Design Engineering. Within the school she is head of the Design Psychology Lab, which focuses on understanding psychological mechanisms that govern human behaviour, emotions, and decision-making processes related to designing products, services, and behavioural interventions that benefit mental health.

Pietro Valdastri

Prof. Pietro Valdastri is Chair of Robotics and Autonomous Systems at the university of Leeds, and director of the STORM Lab. His research is centered around “Medical Capsule Robots”, working on enabling technologies that have the potential to transform endoscopy and surgery. These technologies include magnetic manipulation of capsule robots, water jet propulsion, real-time pose tracking, intermagnetic force measurement, miniature mechatronic design, small-scale electronic circuits and open source design environments.

Matthew Allen

Prof. Matthew Allen is a professor of small animal surgery in the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge University. His interests span over all aspects of surgical research, but with a particular emphasis on musculoskeletal research, such as: Musculoskeletal Cancer, Bone Regeneration and Implant Fixation, Musculoskeletal Biomechanics, Orthopaedic Infection and Comparative Clinical Research.

Helge A. Wurdemann

Dr. H.A Wurdemann is roboticist and Lecturer in Medical Devices at University College London. He is the director of the Soft Haptics and Robotics Lab in UCL, and his research interests include the design and application of bio-inspired, soft and stiffness-controllable medical and haptic devices and robotic art.

Mark Slack

Mark Slack is a Consultant Gynaecologist and Urogynaecologist and Associate Lecturer at the University of Cambridge. He is Chief Medical Officer for CMR Surgical and held an NHS Consultant post at Addenbrooke’s Hospital until August 2019. In 2014 he co-founded CMR Surgical a British medical device company working to develop a next-generation robotic system for minimal access surgery. He has been their Chief Medical Officer since its establishment, and moved over to a full time position within the organisation in 2018.

Dana Damian

Dr Dana D. Damian is a lecturer at the Centre of Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare,  University of Sheffield. Some of her work includes robotic implants, prosthetic wearables (tactile sensors and haptic devices), and plant prostheses. Her research interest is in developing a bionic and assistive robot that shows life-like behavior and sustained operation in order to achieve long-term adaptive healthcare, through the intersection between soft robotics, embodied artificial intelligence and bioengineering.

Jonathan Rossiter

Prof. Jonathan Rossiter is Professor of Robotics and head of the Soft Robotics group at Bristol Robotics Laboratory. As part of his robotic actuator and artificial muscle research he has been developing new polymer-composite actuators involving principles of buckling and bi-stability and robots which are inspired by bio-mimetic study of swimming organisms, including bacteria and fish. His interests also include bio-mimetics, artificial intelligence, composites, sensors and the wider robotics field.

Luke Hares

Luke is a physicist with practical multidisciplinary engineering skills and, for the past 20 years, has been involved in the conception and development of many products and medical devices. Luke was responsible for the Versius concept, created in response to the unmet need for a better way to perform laparoscopic surgery.

Announcements & Others

  • We are encouraging abstract submissions for poster sessions that will take place during the workshop.
  • Abstracts must be 250-500 words, in standard formats, interested students/faculty can send it directly to as a doc, docx, pdf or alternatively in text via email.
  • The deadline for the abstract is February 14th, 2020.
  • Notification of abstract acceptance within February 21st.


Luca Scimeca *
Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge,
Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1PZ, UK.

Dr. Fumiya Iida
Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge,
Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1PZ, UK.

Dr. Perla Maiolino
Oxford Robotics Institute
23 Banbury Rd, Oxford OX2 6NN

Dr. Thrishantha Nanayakkara
Dyson school of Design Engineering, Imperial College London,
10 Princes Garden SW7 1NA London, United Kingdom

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