HERO Consortium

The main goal of this consortium is to facilitate collaborative relationship between hospitals, institutions, professionals and associations of patients to improve the quality of life (QoL) of children with cancer and survivors.

The HERO Consortium, funded by Honda Research Institute – Japan (HRI-JP), is working on the use of social robotics as a tool to assist professionals, patients and families.

With the intention of helping people to have a better life, HRI-JP has designed a kind of robotic being called Haru.

Medicine has added years to childre’s life

and now it is time for HARU

to add life to their years

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) health is «a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease». For that reason, taking care of oncological children means paying attention not only to the disease, but also to other issues closely involved in the children’s QoL, such as cognitive, psycho-emotional and social side-effects during and after treatment.

The impact of addressing these problems is very important, taking into account that around 400.000 children and adolescents (0-19 years of age) develop cancer every year in the world. The number of cancer survivors in growing every year and is now estimated at over 12 million in Europe. Social robotics, and HARU in particular, can play an important role in addressing these problems and it can be a solution for many of these children.

The very first tasks of this consortium have focused on:

  1. Identifying main needs in oncological children’s care, so that Haru can help them cope with the problems they face. Apart from the physical consequences of cancer, children can experience isolation, disrupted social and educational development and spychological distress for dealing with problems that go beyond their level of maturity.
  2. Proposing technological solutions with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Socially Intelligent Agents (SIA), where Haru can play the role of an encouraging mediator who assists and guides children to better understand their complex situation and focus on what is important to improve their condition. Haru can also be a kind of friendly, empathetic and respectful go-between that connects children to their friends, relatives, mates at school, etc.
  3. Expanding the consortium of institutions, associations and hospitals, so that we can have a better knowledge of the needs of patients, families and professionals, and also work together in the making and sharing Haru technology and applications that might alliviate children’s suffering.