Healthcare systems are overburdened by lack of personnel, budget constraints, emergency, exceptional events, and age-related chronic diseases. The innovation of health services, infrastructures, and processes are compelling, as even more manifested by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. From this perspective, AI methods and techniques are required (and expected) to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and the quality of healthcare systems and their processes. Existing challenges are both in terms of healthcare and also economic.

Cognitive agents (e.g. digital assistants, cognitive twins, chatbots etc.), autonomous agents and humanoid robots are among the most impacting research fields in artificial intelligence, which have proven to be essential for the digitalization of healthcare. For example, robots are increasingly required to play an active role in helping the patients and the medical doctors in the execution of rehabilitation and the explanation of therapy protocols. Similarly, cognitive agents are asked to assist the patients in doing cognitive exercises, checking their health-related pathology status and eventually alerting the doctors when some problematic issues should eventually emerge by providing a preliminary diagnosis of the patient status. Specific topics such as ageing, active living, chronic diseases, or others related to the quality of life play an increasingly important role in this research field.

This special issue calls for research discussing techniques, problems, challenges, and applications of cognitive agents and robotics in healthcare scenarios

Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

• Clinical agent-based decision- support systems, including recommender systems
• Conversational agents and personal digital assistants for patient empowerment
• Human-robot interaction in healthcare
• Artificial Companions for elderly people
• Humanoid Robots and Cognitive Assistants for COVID-19
• Autonomous and remote care delivery
• Responsible and ethical AI in healthcare: agents models and architectures
• Responsible and ethical AI in healthcare: agent-based simulations and applications
• Cognitive agents and robots for interpretability and explainability
• Trust, security, and privacy in human-centered healthcare intelligent systems
• Autonomous health monitoring and assistance
• Robotic, autonomous systems for healthcare
• Intelligent detection of health issues
• Architectures for healthcare systems

Keywords: cognitive agents, autonomous systems, healthcare, humanoids, human-robot interaction

Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.


11 June 2021
Abstract submission
08 October 2021
Manuscript submission


All papers must present original and unpublished work that is not
currently under review. Papers will be evaluated according to their
significance, originality, technical content and relevance to the research topic.
You can submit your paper at this link: 


Valeria Seidita, University of  Palermo, Italy 
Rafael H. Bordini, Pontifical Catholic University, Brazi
Roberta Calegari, University of Bologna, Italy
Antonio Lieto, University of Torino and ICAR-CNR, Italy 
Amy Loutfi, Örebro University, Sweden