Tuesday, July 15, 2008

PEARL - a Robotic Assistant for the Elderly

Amir Hossein is a researcher on mobile robotics she introduces PEARL.

"We have succeeded in helping people to live longer, now we need to help them to live ‎better.‎

The project PERSONAL ROBOTIC ASSISTANTS FOR THE ELDERLY is an inter-‎disciplinary multi-university research initiative focused on robotic technology for the ‎elderly that brings together researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie ‎Mellon University.‎

The goal of our project is to develop mobile, personal service robots that assist elderly ‎people suffering from chronic disorders in their everyday life. We are currently ‎developing an autonomous mobile robot that "lives" in a private home of a chronically ill ‎elderly person. The robot provides a research platform to test out a range of ideas for ‎assisting elderly people, such as:‎
‎* Intelligent Reminding: Many elderly patients have to give up independent living ‎because they forget. They forget to visit the restroom, to take medicine, to drink, or to see ‎the doctor. Our project explores the effectiveness of a robotic reminder, which follows ‎people around (hence cannot get lost).‎
‎* Tele-presence: Professional care-givers can use the robot to establish a "tele-presence" ‎and interact directly with remote patients. This makes many doctor visits superfluous. ‎Our robot is a platform for tele-presence technology that connects patients with care-‎givers through the Next Generation Internet (NGI).‎
‎* Data collection and surveillance: A range of emergency conditions can be avoided with ‎systematic data collection (e.g., certain types of heart failures). This reason alone can ‎make service robots succeed in the home care business.‎
‎*Mobile manipulation: Arthritis is the main reason for elderly to give up independent ‎living. A semi-intelligent mobile manipulator, that integrates robotic strength with a ‎person's senses and intellects, can overcome barriers in manipulating objects ‎‎(refrigerator, laundry, microwave) that currently force patients to move into assisted ‎living facilities.‎
‎* Social interaction: A huge number of elderly people are forced to live alone, deprived ‎of social contacts. The project seeks to explore whether robots can take over certain ‎social functions.‎

Two factor suggest that now is the time to establish mobile robots in the home-care ‎sector: First, for the first time we actually have the technology together to develop robots ‎that exhibit the necessary robustness, reliability, and level of capability. Second, the need ‎for cost-effective solutions in the elderly care sector is larger than ever before.‎

If successful, this project could change the way we deliver health-care to the ever-‎growing contingent of elderly people, and it could significantly advance the state-of-the-‎art in mobile service robotics and human robot interaction."