Workshop: Human-Robot Medical Interaction

Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge

March 23rd, 2020

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

Workshop Program

Time Talk Chair SpeakerTitle
Opening and Introduction Luca Scimeca
9:40 10:00 Plenary talk           Thrishantha Nanayakkara “Constrained haptic information gain during physical examination in primary care”
10:00 10:20 Plenary talk             Mazdak Ghajari “Computational modelling of soft tissue dynamics with application to human-robot interaction”
10:20 10:40 Plenary talk            Nejra Van Zalk TBD
10:40 11:00 Panel Discussion  Perla Maiolino
11:00 11:30Short Break      
11:30 11:50 Plenary talk    Matthew Allen“Robotic Surgery in Veterinary Medicine: Challenges and Opportunities”
11:50 12:10 Plenary talk      Justin Collins“Novel technologies in robotic surgery training”
12:10 12:30 Plenary talk  Luke Hares“Hands on Interaction”
12:30 12:50Panel DiscussionLiang He & Florence Ching Ying Leong
12:50 14:00 Lunch Break
14:00 14:20 Plenary talk                 Pietro Valdastri “Exploring autonomy in robotic colonoscopy”
14:20 14:40 Plenary talk                  Helge A. Wurdemann
& Sara Abad Guaman
“INSTINCT – INtuitive Soft,
stiffness-controllable hapTic INterfaCe for soft Tissue palpation
during robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery”
14:40 15:00 Plenary talk                  Dana Damian “Robots for tissue repair and regeneration”
15:00 15:20Plenary talk    Jonathan Rossiter“Soft nudging and pushing for sarcopenia and stroke”
15:20 16:00 Panel Discussion & ConclusionLuca Scimeca


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.

Justin Collins

Dr Justin Collins is the Associate Medical Director at CMR Surgical, the company behind the next-generation surgical robotic system Versius. Justin is a Consultant Robotic Surgeon at UCLH, and has completed specialist surgical fellowships at Clinique St Augustine, Bordeaux; Karolinska, Stockholm; USC Keck Medical Los Angeles and Mansoura University Hospital, Egypt. His research interests include telemedicine, efficiency studies, ERAS protocols and health informatics for patients and surgeons.

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 Co-founder and Technology Director at CMR Surgical. He 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.


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