School of Engineering and Digital Arts receives funding for COALAS Project

The COgnitive Assisted Living Ambient System (COALAS) Project has been selected in the context of the INTERREG IV A France (Channel) – England European cross-border co-operation programme, which is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
With a total budget of 1.6 million Euros, and six partners for the UK and France, COALAS aims to develop and demonstrate a new concept which represents a fundamentally different approach in using technology to provide every day services for Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRMs), both at home (indoors) and in the community (outdoors). Instead of users adapting to the technology, they should be enabled to live their lives normally, withthe intelligence of the system providing the required support. To implement and evaluate this new concept, a framework is introduced which integrates an environment perception engine (the system’s brain) with robotic devices having different capabilities: an electric wheelchair able to navigate autonomously and semi-autonomously, a humanoid robotic helper, a service mobile robotic platform, and a sensor-rich health monitoring architecture. The COALAS system uses cameras, microphones and motion detection sensors to collect visual, auditory and motion cues on the user’s environment, and employs a cognition component to understand and interpret these cues for making decisions proactively about the type of help required by the user. This is augmented by a spoken dialogue interface to provide additional information to the user.
Dr Kostas Sirlantzis who leads the EDA team of Dr. Gareth Howells, Professor Sarah Spurgeon, Dr. Sanaul Hoque, Mr. Peter Lee, Dr. Farzin Deravi and Mr. Steve Kelly, said: “We are delighted to add COALAS to our portfolio of projects in the area of Robotic Systems Engineering. These grants enable us to develop systems with the potential to make a difference to the quality of life experienced by people with disability or reduced mobility”.