A prototype care robot has been unveiled to help with the “more mundane care” of elderly and disabled people, including those suffering from conditions such as dementia. This would free time for human carers to focus on more personal parts of the job. The robot could also perform tasks that humans currently don’t have the time to do. This includes checking on whether someone is safe without taking away their privacy.
The robot, named Stevie, is designed to resemble a human (to some extent). It has arms, a head, and wheels. This, the inventors say, will “help people realise that they can speak to it and perhaps ask it to do things for them.”
Stevie can do many things autonomously including reminding patients to take medication. If a room sensor detects that they have fallen over, a human operator can control the robot and call the emergency services if necessary.
Stevie was invented by engineers at Trinity College Dublin (TCD). It is in the active development stage at the time of writing, which involves social interaction with human users. It also integrates previous research in the areas of human-robot interaction, artificial intelligence, robot design, and human-centred design.
“The robot has been designed to be highly social. It can communicate through a variety of modalities, such as speech, gesture and facial expression. The robot has a range of sensors including a 360 degree camera, RGBD depth sensor, microphone and laser scanner.” said TCD
Enterprise Ireland has given the team a contract to commercialise the technology with pilots planned in 2018.