Work at the Robotic Assisted Living Testbed (RALT) at Heriot-Watt University tackles the national priority of caring for the elderly and the steeply rising costs and strain of healthcare provision and services. Robots and autonomous systems, combined with AI, digital infrastructure and connected data systems have the potential to revolutionise the future provision of social care, and ultimately create a connected care ecosystem linking home, residential and hospital care as a continuum.
Research and Development
The testbed is used in research focusing on the development of innovative, user-friendly, interactive and modular independent living systems combining smart sensing, ICT and robotic technology working together to assist humans, triage issues and facilitate communication and connectivity as part of personalised and connected social care practices.
Through the RALT, Heriot-Watt University follows the research concept of an user-centered living lab, integrating concurrent research and innovation processes within a public-private-people partnership. The roboticists and computer scientists at the RALT work alongside usability and health experts, psychologists, sociologists and people with assisted living needs, to find solutions with global applications. Our collaborators include NHS Lothian, Health and Social Care ALLIANCE Scotland, the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland, in addition to a number of nursing homes, day centers in Edinburgh and care providers and housing associations in Scotland.
The testbed is designed to facilitate the creation of datasets capturing complex, interleaved and hierarchical naturalistic activities, collected in a very rich sensor environment. Datasets are curated using dedicated post-processing tools to annotate heterogeneus sensor tracks in order to facilitate the development of machine learning solutions for interpreting sensed data into activities of daily living and data analytics and data visualisation tools for the analysis of health and wellness data. In this sense, the RALT is a fundamental enabler of the Health & Social Care aspect of the Data Driven Innovation initiative
, part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.
Training and Innovation
The testbed hosts the SICSA Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) Summer School
. The school follows a strong learning by doing approach delivered in the form of a hackathon embedded throughout the school. Students from multiple disciplines have the opportunity to work together and interact with end-users, care organisations, care workers, psychologists, and healthcare experts. This allows participants to see how the different technical elements of an AAL system can be linked together, and experience the full cycle of a participatory-design AAL project.
The testbed is designed to test, validate and benchmark IoT and Robotic technology for assisted living applications. The testbeds hosts the European Robotic League (ERL) Consumer Service Robots
and the METRICS competitions
, which aim to bolster research in service robotics for home applications, and to raise public awareness of the current and future capabilities of such robot systems to meet societal challenges like healthy ageing and longer independent living.