Technology Is for People - Researching Robots to Help with Daily Life

Public Relations Office        May 30, 2017

Daisuke Chugo, Associate Professor, School of Science and Technology, Department of Human System Interaction

Daisuke Chugo, Associate Professor, School of Science and Technology, Department of Human System Interaction

Born in 1976. Graduated from the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Faculty of Science and Technology at Tokyo University of Science. Completed the Master’s Course in Mechanical Engineering from the Graduate School of Science and Technology in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Tokyo University of Science. Completed the Doctoral Course in Mathematics, Electronics and Informatics from the Graduate School of Science and Engineering at Saitama University. Received his Ph.D. in engineering. In 2009, became an Assistant Professor in the School of Science and Technology at Kwansei Gakuin University after serving in such positions as researcher in a Tokyo University research facility and Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Information Systems at The University of Electro-Communications. Assumed his current position in 2013. Has received numerous awards from, and presented numerous papers at, international conferences.

Associate Professor Daisuke Chugo, of the School of Science and Technology's Department of Human System Interaction, identifies the inconveniences that people experience in their daily lives and researches robotic technologies to help in dealing with them. With society becoming progressively older, what does research focused on an expected future of coexistence between humans and robots look like? To answer this, we look at Associate Professor Chugo's cutting-edge research where “humans are the star, not technology.”

assisted movement system

The focus of Associate Professor Chugo’s research is on service robotics which assists humans. The key themes of his research are “understanding people (modeling humans/movement),” “connecting with people (robots and ubiquitous systems)” and “usage by people (service robots).” Instead of prioritizing engineering technology development and finding ways to apply it in people’s lives, Chugo continually identifies the inconveniences and hassles that people experience in daily life and then researches robotic technologies that will assist with them. With a kindly smile on his face, he devotes his energy to ensuring “technology serves humans instead of humansserving technology.”

Take the case of bedsores, for example. These are a common ailment of people who are confined to bed, and it is not only a major problem for the sufferer but also for those around him or her.

Bedsores are also not uncommon among wheelchair users. Long-term, daily use of a wheelchair concentrates the users weight around the sacrum, increasing the likelihood of bedsores developing. In Japan today, wheelchairs designed to be as easy to transport as possible are widespread. A drawback to these wheelchairs, however, is that they are not suited to use for long periods of time. It is said that an effective way of reducing the risk of bedsores is to adjust your bottom on your seat every 30 minutes. In response, Associate Professor Chugo has developed an assisted movement system for bedsore risk reduction which uses air pressure to provide variable support for the user’s bottom and back. Furthermore, Chugo is also working on technology for a system which can accommodate the user’s physical build and sitting style to enable even physically weak users to change their seated posture by adjusting their bottoms as naturally as a healthy person can.

Book knowledge and engineering technology alone cannot produce robotics technology that helps humans. Of course, Associate Professor Chugo’s applies knowledge from such essen-tial science and engineering fields as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science; however, he also draws extensively from conversations with wheelchair users and caretakers as well as from fields like psychology and medicine. Associate Professor Chugo’s research is characterized by how it utilizes such cross-disciplinary elements in developing technology.

“I also belong to social welfarerelated academic societies,” says Chugo. “It’s fair to say that I don’t start my research until after I have studied what the actual needs of users are. In order to draw out the true value of the technologies that surround us, it is not enough to simply polish up the individual technologies themselves; rather, multiple technologies need to function together as a system.”
Chugo’s devotion goes beyond his research to also include the cultivation of those who will succeed him.

As he explains, “I am a researcher, and at the same time I am an educator. My mission is to cultivate researchers and engineers with an exceptional sense of what systems are of particular need in the world. The students are the principal players in the laboratory.

I maintain a focus on helping them grow and develop as we work together to provide the world with useful technologies for people’s lives.”