Orca Hub

The ORCA Hub is an ambitious initiative that brings together internationally leading experts from 5 UK universities with over 30 industry partners.   

Led by the Edinburgh Centre of Robotics (Heriot-Watt University and University of Edinburgh), in collaboration with Imperial College, Oxford and Liverpool Universities, this multi-disciplinary consortium brings its unique expertise in: Subsea, Ground and Aerial robotics; as well as human-machine interaction, innovative sensors for Non Destructive Evaluation and low-cost sensor networks; and asset management and certification.


In the UK, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects 547,000 people over the age of 18 (1.3% of working age adults) according to the 2011 census. These adults encounter serious difficulties in their everyday life, particularly in securing and maintaining employment. The unemployment rate among adults with ASD is higher than 85%, nearly double the unemployment rate of 48% for the wider disabled population and compares to an overall UK unemployment rate of 5.5%. 

In the SoCoRo project, work is being carried out to design such a training system. We will design a modular Affective Architecture using ROS, the Robot Operating System, that is able to generate dynamic expressive behaviours of varying levels of drama/subtlety and recognise social signals from its interaction partner. We will design training scenarios related to common office activities and work with our partners, Autism Initiatives, in Edinburgh, to evaluate the usefulness of the training system for our target population. 




This PhD project aims to explore how, on using socially assistive robots (SAR) to aid in the facilitation of cognitive rehabilitation for individuals with cognitive impairment due to age-related cognitive decline.

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Funded by: ESPRC


Participatory Design Workshops Investigating How Socially Assistive Robots could Assist Stroke Survivors and those with Chest and Heart Conditions

Human-Robot interaction (HRI) research often uses principles and methodologies from the more established field of HCI. However, this poses an interesting question: are HCI methds directly compatible with HRI investigations, or do certain adaptations needed to be considered before they can be used to their full effect?

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Funded by: ESPRC


Currently, only 40% of people who could benefit from Hearing Aids (HAs) have them, and most people who have HA devices don't use them often enough. There is social stigma around using visible HAs ('fear of looking old'), they require a lot of conscious effort to concentrate on different sounds and speakers, and only limited use is made of speech enhancement - making the spoken words (which are often the most important aspect of hearing to people) easier to distinguish. It is not enough just to make everything louder!

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A significant portion of the over 65 population experience a fall at least once a year in their home environment. This puts a faller under significant health risks and adds to the financial burden of the care services. This project explores a proof of concept implementation of a fall alert system that uses MiRo (a small mobile social robot designed and manufactured by Consequential Robotics) in the home environment. 

We take advantage of MiRo’s pet-like characteristics, small size, mobility, and array of sensors to implement a system where a person who has fallen can interact with it and summon help if needed. The initial aim of this proof of concept system described here was to act as a demonstration tool for health professionals and housing association representatives, gauging their needs and requirements, driving this research forward.

Late-Breaking Report published in ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction 2020 (HRI'20) can be found here

Below is a Youtube video we prepared summarising this project.