TECH | Oct 28, 2020

IOT and AI at the service of people

The case of the SARA project with SEMIoTICS

Mario is an elderly person who lives alone. Mario is sitting in front of the television he has been watching for some time. His assistant “robot” notices this and, following the “daily activity” rules configured by his GP, decides to remind him he has to carry out the cognitive rehabilitation exercises which the doctor prescribed.

If Mario needs to take some medicine in the kitchen and wants to move from the living room with a motorized walker, his assistant robot will check his every movement, as well as monitor him whilst he performs his daily activities.

Mario does not exist yet, except on an experimental basis, but RA, the Robot Assistant, and the motorized walker, called Robotic Rollator, RR, do.

“We are working on this project – explains Philip Wright, robotics researcher of the Engineering Group – as part of the SEMIoTICS project that will finish at the end of 2020, and which aims to develop a framework based on models built on existing IoT platforms, to enable and guarantee a secure, reliable implementation and semi-autonomous behavior in IoT/IioT applications”.

What are the objectives of the European project?

There are 7 development objectives of SEMIoTICS, which aims to develop models for orchestrating intelligent objects and IoT platform enablers in IoT applications, in conditions of Security, Privacy, Dependability, Interoperability (SPDI). Mechanisms capable of integrating different devices and objects and of making them communicate with each other, allowing an integrated and predictive monitoring of intelligent objects.

“The SEMIoTICS framework – explains Wright – integrates intelligent programmable networks and semantic interoperability mechanisms in addition to supporting dynamic adaptation between different layers, including heterogeneous objects, networks and cloud, addressing effective adaptation and autonomous behavior both at the device level (edge) and at the infrastructure (backend) one, based on intelligent analysis and learning.

This technology-rich scenario is necessary both for implementing our digital health project and for two other application scenarios: the first on renewable energy (which Siemens is responsible for), and the second entirely dedicated to the optimization of physical devices (which STMicroelectronics is responsible for). Application scenarios which highlight the need for the components offered by the SEMIoTICS project for the network management, security and flexibility that these require”.

What is the SARA project and at what point is it?

The Digital Health Engineering project that uses SEMIoTICS, called SARASocially Assistive Robotic Solution for Ambient assisted living, aims to delay the de-hospitalization of those patients who are not sufficiently independent to be able to remain alone at home, but who do not require continuous attention or daily services in health care facilities.

The system is made up of various components, both software and also physical, such as the motorized walker (called Robotic Rollator, RR) created as part of another research project, again by the same Engineering laboratory in 2015, and the humanoid robot (which the SARA system identifies as Robotic Assistant, RA). There are other components in the system, including home automation devices and wearable sensors; the latter two are required to identify and/or implement specific situations.

“At the end of 2019 – explains Wright – a first demo was made in Engineering’s new EUR headquarters in Rome, by simulating the scenario in which the hypothetical Mr. Mario had fallen and the Robot detects his fall to independently initiate a trajectory plan request and to reach the room where the accident occurred. While the Robot reaches Mario, it calls the call center and initiates a request for help, allowing the remote operator to check the patient’s status. Should the RA not have reached the exact point in the room or should there be the need to rotate the robot head to have a clearer view of the surrounding environment or for a more precise shot, the operator can decide to take control of the RA and to move it remotely.

The purpose of this demo was to highlight the need for this flexibility and attention towards safety, but it was also a good opportunity for the research laboratory team to show what is being developed.

In the next demonstration, which will be carried out by the end of the year, Engineering will present one of the scenarios described above, using the technology of the SEMIoTICS project and highlighting the progress made and, we hope, the achievement of all the required objectives”.