Research on children development: new perspectives and tools

Research in the field of Mechatronics and Robotics has opened a new interesting perspective in neuroscientific and psychological studies providing new tools to investigate more in details, motor control in childhood. This has fostered the acquisition of new insights about this topic and it has enabled the possibility to develop new computational models strongly related to behavioral neuroscience. On the other hand, the new theoretical insights about motor development has allowed to further refine technology so establishing a de-facto cross-fertilization between the two levels of research. The goal of this workshop is to present current and future trends in this field involving researchers in the area of biomedical engineering, robotics, life sciences, and neuroscience. The objective is to bring together researches on motor development in childhood (focused on different diseases such as cerebral palsy and autism), from a technological and a theoretical point of view in order to create a network of contacts focalized on these specific aspects of research.

List of Speakers 

Paolo Dario, the BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy,

Presentation Title: Neurodevelopmental Bioengineering, new methodologies and tools for diagnosis and rehabilitation in infancy

Bio:  Paolo Dario received his Dr. Eng. Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pisa, Italy, in 1977 and pursued postgraduate education with fellowships from the University of Pisa and from the National Research Council of Italy (CNR).  He completed his graduate and postgraduate education and training as a research associate at Brown University, Providence, RI, and at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA. Today, Paolo Dario is the Coordinator of the PhD Program in BioRobotics at SSSA, currently enrolling 92 PhD students. Paolo Dario is the editor of two books on the subject of robotics, and the author of more than 500 scientific papers (250 on ISI journals). Paolo Dario is an IEEE Fellow, and he has served as President of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society in the years 2002-2003, as Co-Chair of the Technical Committees on Bio-robotics and of Robo-ethics of the same Society. Paolo Dario’s main field of interest is biorobotics, a frontier research area that combines bio-inspiration and bio-application. Paolo Dario has been and is working on theoretical models, design methods, precision technologies (including micro, nano and bio) for fabrication of novel components and integrated systems, machines and robots, and on the application of such systems to different fields, including (micro) endoscopic and endoluminal surgery, rehabilitation and assistance to disabled and elderly people, neurodevelopmental bioengineering and humanoid robotics.

Fabrizio Taffoni, Università Campus Bio-Medico, Rome, Italy,

Presentation Title: Enabling technologies for behavioral assessment of infants and children

Bio:  Fabrizio Taffoni (IEEE Senior Member) received the Master degree in Biomedical Engineering and the PhD in Biomedical Robotics from the Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, Italy, in 2005 and in 2009. During his PhD  he was visiting student at the Perception in Action Laboratory, Perception-Movement-Action Research Consortium (PMARC), Edinburgh University (UK), where he joined the group of Prof. Dave N. Lee, working on wearable sensors to study spontaneous and goal directed movements in newborns.  

He is currently Assistant Professor of Bioengineering in the Engineering department of Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma where he also serve as tutorship services coordinator and responsible for international mobility of the master class in biomedical engineering.  Over the years,  he worked in biomedical engineering, developmental neuroscience, and developmental and cognitive psychology. His main  research interests are in the fields of human-centred robotics and biomechatronic design to study and models the development of motor control in children. 

John-John Cabibihan, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar,

Presentation Title:  Smart Train Toys for Engaging Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Bio:  John-John Cabibihan (IEEE Senior Member 2014) received his PhD in bioengineering from the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy in 2007. Concurrent with his PhD studies, he was awarded an international scholarship grant in 2004 by the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan, France. Therein, he spent one year at the Laboratoire de Mécanique et Technologie. From 2008 to 2013, he was an Assistant Professor at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the National University of Singapore, where he also served as the Deputy Director of the Social Robotics Laboratory and an Affiliate Faculty Member at the Singapore Institute of Neurotechnologies (SiNAPSE). He is currently an Associate Professor at the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department of Qatar University. He serves at the Editorial Boards of the International Journal of Social Robotics, International Journal of Advanced Robotics Systems, Frontiers in Bionics and Biomimetics, and Computational Cognitive Science. He was a past Chair of the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society, Singapore Chapter (terms: 2011 and 2012). He was also the General Chair of the 6th IEEE International Conference on Cybernetics and Intelligent Systems (2013), Program Chair of the 4th International Conference on Social Robotics (2012), and Program Co- Chair of the 2nd International Conference on Social Robotics (2010). Over the years, his work has been focused on assistive and social robotics for the therapy of children with autism, lifelike prosthetics, bio-inspired tactile sensing, and human-robotic touch and gestures.

Chung Hyuk Park, George Washington University

Presentation Title:  Multi-modal Robotic Framework for Social and Emotional Interaction for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Bio: Chung Hyuk Park received his PhD degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2012 and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) at The George Washington University. Prior to joining SEAS, he was an assistant professor at the New York Institute of Technology and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He was also with the LG Electronics Research Center where he received as a team the “LG Electronics Best R&D Award.” He directs the Assistive Robotics and Tele-Medicine (ART-Med) laboratory, with research themes on assistive & interactive robotics for people with disabilities and telemedical robotics. ART-Med lab is a newly established lab with PhD, MS, and UG students from multi-disciplinary backgrounds, pursuing scientific contributions through applying engineering concepts of assistive robotics, biomedical systems, machine learning, haptics, and multi-modal human-robot interaction (HRI) on real-world problems. 

Organizer I:      Francesca Cecchi –IEEE, RAS, EMBS Member
Bio:  Francesca Cecchi received the PhD in Biorobotics from the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in May 2011. Currently she is a postdoc at the BioRobotics Institute of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and her research fields are neurodevelopmental engineering and educational robotics.

Organizer II:     Fabrizio Taffoni-IEEE Member
Bio:  Fabrizio Taffoni received a PhD degree in Biomedical Engineering in 2009 from Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma (UCBM). From 2009 to 2011 he was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Laboratory Developmental Neuroscience. Currently, he is tenure-track assistant Professor at UCBM. His research interests are: biomechatronics, robotics, and human motor control.