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CARES featured in New Zealand Geographic

“The Robots Will See You Now”….. The CARES team are featured in New Zealand Geographic’s latest issue.

Naomi Arnold came to interview members of our team for this special article which puts a spotlight on how robotics can assist older members of our community. The article showcases CARES current and past research projects, telling a neat story around our mission to collaborate with researchers and end users and to create inspiring and innovative robotic technologies that improve societal wellbeing

To read the article go to:

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International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR 2017)

The Ninth International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR 2017) held in Japan this month, brought together researchers and practitioners working on the interaction between humans and robots and on the integration of robots into our society. The theme of the 2017 conference was embodied interactive robots.

Lecturer Dr Ho Seok Ahn and Mr Byeong-Kyu Ahn (Programmer – Robotics Software), represented CARES at the conference.

Dr Ahn, on behalf researchers:  Sheng Zhang (ME student), JongYoon Lim (Robotics Programmer – Robotics Software), Min Ho Lee (PhD student), Professor Bruce MacDonald (Principal Investigator) presented the paper: Design and Implementation of a Device Management System for Healthcare Assistive Robots: Sensor Manager System Version 2.

This paper presents the second version of a sensor manager system designed for social robotics such as healthcare service robots. The purpose of the paper was to propose a new improved design which helps robots manage vital sign measuring devices and solve some practical issues such as load capacity and power supply.

The presentation received recognition by being awarded the Best Interactive Session at the Conference!

In addition to presenting a paper, Dr Ahn hosted a workshop on Social Robot Intelligence for Social Human-Robot Interaction of Service Robots with international colleagues. There was an overwhelming interest, filling the room with double the number of expected participants (over 40 researchers in total). Positive feedback from all the participants is encouraging them to run the workshop again at HRI2018 conference next March 2018.

Congratulations to the team!

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Taiwanese ministerial visit to the Newmarket Innovation Campus

Taiwan’s Vice-Minister of Economic Affairs Ms. Mei-Hua Wang led a delegation of 15 Industry and Government high officials on Tuesday 31st October visiting the University of Auckland’s Innovation Campus in Newmarket. Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jim Metson introduced the University, its newest Campus, and UniServices, discussing the capabilities of the different research groups and centres. It is evident that there is ample scope for collaboration between Taiwan and New Zealand, especially in the areas of ICT, Robotics and Materials. Previously in the day, an MOU between the University and the Taiwanese Government was signed to facilitate the exchange of talented students.

The delegation spent some time visiting the Electrical and Computer Engineering labs, including the robotics labs. Android robot EveR4 personally welcome Ms Wang, and the team showcased our latest robotics research.


Congratulations Part IV Engineering students

The CARES team would like to congratulate our Part IV Engineering students on the completion of their research projects. The Part IV research project is a learning exercise that allows final year Bachelor of Engineering students to tackle a significant problem in a similar way to how they may approach it in their professional careers. These talented students worked on a myriad of engineering challenges in a number of projects including a cloud-based Māori pronunciation application, vision based robot arm control system,  a multi-platform application for cognitive training for dementia patients, developing a robotic software framework, and experience planner application: for tourists in NZ. We are proud to help grow New Zealand’s future engineers.

 To read more about these projects go to:

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Photo credit: University of Auckland.

NZ Embassy, Korea

Stronger ties between Korea and NZ

Robotics is bringing New Zealand and Korea closer together. Auckland University’s robotics experts have long-standing Korean partnerships.  On the 13th October Prof Bruce MacDonald and Dr Pau Medrano-Gracia were hosted by Ambassador Fearnley, Trade Commissioner Stenhouse and other colleagues from the Embassy, together with Korean R&D partners, Dr Kim Geon-Ha from Ewha’s Brain Institute, Kang Tae-Yoon of Yujin Robot and Dr Choi Jong-Suk of Korea’s Institute of Science and Technology. Auckland University’s at the centre of exciting and productive collaboration.

Details and photos courtesy of the NZ Embassy, Seoul Facebook page (@NZembassykorea)


Cute Seal Robots Support Dementia Patients

Seal-like robots may play a crucial role in the care of people with dementia across New Zealand.  CARES academic, Associate Professor Elizabeth Broadbent, has led a 12-week study showing that the Paro seal robot “helps sufferers smile and talk more, gives them a sense of purpose and something to love and cuddle.”   To find out more about the study read the recent article in the NZ Herald (28th August 2017) here or contact Dr Broadbent here.

Robots and Humans

Calling for a Ban on Killer Robots

The founders of 116 robotics and artificial intelligence companies, from across 26 countries, are calling on the UN and governments to ban the use of lethal autonomous weapons. Earlier today, CARES Director, Prof. Bruce MacDonald was on Radio Live talking to Wendyl Nissen about the potential threat of killer robots.

“In this case, the, so-called killer robots are shooting at people or exploding bombs… there are dire consequences if something goes wrong and people are quite rightly flagging that up and saying we really ought to think about what we are doing here.” – Prof. Bruce MacDonald.

To hear Bruce and Wendyl discuss the various issues around sending robots to fight wars and the potential problems of removing the human decision-making element in the final button pushing side, listen to the full broadcast here.  To find out more about the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, click here.


Photo credit: from the Radio Live article.

Women in Software Engineering

Welcoming Women & Girls to Software Engineering

“We are here to tell you that women deserve a seat at the [engineering and technology] table, and the reasons why.”  Three UOA software engineering experts with 24 years of collective experience teaching software engineering have responded to recent media stories suggesting the tech industry doesn’t need more female software engineers.   A. Prof Catherine Watson (one of our valued CARES academics), Dr Rashina Hoda and Dr Kelly Blincoe note that, “there is a sizeable cohort of highly talented females out in society who would make excellent engineers, but due to society’s expectations they are not encouraged”.  To read the whole Newsroom article, click here.

To find out more about studying Software Engineering at the University of Auckland, click here.


Photo credit: University of Auckland.

Nethra at ISPGR

A Step Closer to Preventing Falls

Falls and injuries in older people are associated with specific gait parameters.  PhD student, Nethra Ganesh, is developing a real-world gait parameter assessment using body worn sensors.  This enables physical activity and walking episodes to be measured outside a laboratory, with a view to preventing falls.   Nethra presented her phase one findings recently at the 2017 International Society of Posture and Gait Research World Congress in Ft. Lauderdale, USA.  Her poster was titled: Validation of walking episode and physical activity detection in supervised and free living conditions using triaxial accelerometers.

In addition to presenting her research, Nethra won a competition at the ISPGR World Congress 2017 Symposium.  Participants were informed that an activity had been recorded from a short unseen video (approx. 2 minutes duration).  Participants were provided with the triaxial accelerometer raw signal data from the recorded event and asked to analyse these signals and predict what activity/event was actually recorded in the unseen video.  Nethra came first in the competition correctly identifying the sequence of activities as a walking episode followed by a backward fall and rest phase.

The next step in Nethra’s research process is to develop a robust algorithm that can extract and validate these spatio-temporal parameters that can help in prediction and assessment of falls among frail older people.

Paro Companion Robot

Improving Health Using Robots

Inspired by the science fiction stories of her childhood, and Isaac Assimov’s books in particular, Associate Professor Liz Broadbent has chosen a career pathway that spans engineering, health psychology and robots.  On Sunday 13 August (10:06am), Radio NZ interviewed Liz and profiled her involvement with CARES and the focus of her current Fulbright Scholarship in Boston.  Listen to her interview here.

What I like about robots and what inspired me about those Isaac Assimov books  is that you have these robots that are completely selfless and looking out for the human race.  And everything they do is to help humans and I suppose that is my idealistic aim.” ~25′:55″

Liz & Paro robot