Anyone who has undergone intensive physical rehabilitation knows the frustration, boredom and discomfort that comes with repeated exercises over days, weeks and even months. For young children and their families, rehabilitation is often a traumatic and emotional time. Physiotherapists and doctors may be highly skilled in the art of child motivation and distraction, but such motivation costs precious time and resources. In this talk, Chris explores how the advent of social robots is giving rise to new possibilities in pediatric health care and how his team at Swinburne, in partnership with Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, are augmenting the way rehabilitation therapy is being delivered to young pediatric patients (mostly with cerebral palsy) through the inclusion of a robot companion to motivate, instruct and entertain patients. Chris will also address some of the big questions for such applications, like: What benefits does this technology offer? How will patients and health professionals engage with robots in their daily practice? And, are we actually ready to accept robots as health care providers?

Chris McCarthy is a self-confessed robot geek with a particular passion for building artificial intelligence (AI) systems that perceive their world through pixels, and act to assist human activity. For Chris, it is the multi-displinary nature of his work that truly gets him up in the morning, and where he continues to find exciting new problems to solve using AI and computer vision . Over 15 years as a researcher and engineer, Chris has worked on projects as diverse as honeybee-inspired flight control algorithms, health care robots, and bionic eyes.