RoPat20: IROS 2020 Workshop

Robot-Assisted Training for Primary Care: How can robots help train doctors in medical examinations?



Physical examination during primary care remains to be an important part of establishing understanding, trust, and confidence in a doctor-patient relationship. It is a tacit knowledge among the physician community that simultaneous haptic, auditory, and visual perception are key to diagnose a physiological condition using physical examination. A medical student usually goes through a process of acquiring such physical examination skills by practising on real patients with feedback from experts. The complexity and nuances of taking actions such as finger stiffness, indentation, and speed control to condition sharpness of perception of physiological conditions over time is a complex process that cannot be easily taught in a clinical setting.


Recent advances in soft robotics, active perception, augmented reality, and information gain theory offer promising opportunities to improve the consistency and transparency of this process. For instance, they can be combined in various interventions such as providing functional robotic patients that can present physiological conditions, soft sensors to monitor and archive examination behaviors for subsequent comparisons. Such realistic platform can help medical practitioners diagnose patients more efficiently, reducing the need for harmful scans and traumatising interventions, such as biopsies. Such state-of-the-art innovations can be made possible through close collaborations between roboticists and medical practitioners, in which clinical needs and requirements can be effectively understood and addressed.


In this workshop, we introduce the term “behavioral lensing of perception” to broadly refer to the process of iterative conditioning on the body to improve perception of an environmental condition. We will use it as a theme to explore experimental techniques available to inform improvements in primary care examination practice.

This workshop will provide an opportunity for ideation in teams to uncover a set of questions and approaches we can take to address those questions as a community. This will help identify novel experimental techniques in robotics and medical practice that can be useful to the medical robotics community.

Topics of interest

The topics covered and addressed in the workshop includes:

  • Primary Care
  • Medical Training
  • Medical Robotics
  • Haptics and Soft Robotics
  • Human and Robot Interaction
  • Arbitrary Perception and Action
  • Virtual Modelling

Call for papers

The best paper will be awarded a certificate from UK RAS Strategic Task Group on Soft Robotics.

Invited Speakers

  • Simon de Lusignan (Oxford University)
  • Robert D. Howe (Harvard University)
  • Fumiya Iida (Cambridge University)
  • Laurel Riek (UC San Diego)
  • Thrishantha Nanayakkara (Imperial College London)
  • Rachael E. Jack (University of Glasgow)
  • Philippe Schyns (University of Glasgow)
  • Mazdak Ghajari (Imperial College London)
  • Angela Faragasso (Tokyo University)

Panels for Ideation sessions:

Medical / Psychological Ideation Panel:

  • Lou Halamek (Stanford University) – Simulation-based healthcare training
  • Nejra Van Zalk (Imperial College London) – Psychology
  • Philip Chiu (CUHK) – Minimally invasive and robotic surgery
  • Arvind Vadivelu (University of Melbourne) – Robotic surgery

Technical Ideation Panel:

  • Chui Chee Kong (NUS) – Medical Robotics
  • Shinichi Hirai (Ritsumeikan University) – Robot-assisted nurse training in oral care
  • Kazuo Kiguchi (Kyushu University) – Robotic sensing and learning
  • Allen Jiang (Google) – Healthcare technologies
  • Katie Ewing (Intuitive Surgical) – Surgical training
  • Tom Williamson (RMIT) – Surgical robotics



This workshop is supported by: