New robots could help look after an ageing population

April 19th, 2008 - 2:54 pm ICT by admin  

University of Massachusetts

Washington, Apr 19 (ANI): Older people would no more be dependant on families for elderly care, as scientists have developed a robotic assistant that can dial 911 in case of emergencies, remind clients to take their medication and help in their day to day activities.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have come up with a robot called the uBOT-5 that is ready to help, providing elder care and improving the quality of life for those in need.

For the first time, robots are safe enough and inexpensive enough to do meaningful work in a residential environment, said Rod Grupen, computer scientist and director of UMass Amhersts Laboratory for Perceptual Robotics.

The family members can access the unit and visit their elderly parents from any Internet connection, including navigating around the home and looking for their parents.

It has an array of sensors that act as the robots eyes and ears, allowing it to recognize human activities, such as walking or sitting. It can also recognize an abnormal visual event, such as a fall, and notify a remote medical caregiver.

Through an interface, the remote service provider may ask the client to speak, smile or raise both arms, movements that the robot can demonstrate.

If the person is unresponsive, the robot can call 911, alert family and apply a digital stethoscope to a patient, conveying information to an emergency medical technician.

It can carry a load of about 2.2 pounds and has the potential to perform household tasks that require a fair amount of dexterity, including cleaning and grocery shopping.

Grandma can take the robots hand, lead it out into the garden and have a virtual visit with a grandchild who is living on the opposite coast, said Grupen.

To evaluate the effectiveness of potential technologies, the research team worked with social workers, members of the medical community and family members of those in elder care. (ANI)

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