Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Service robots in nursing homes − popular among residents and carers alike

12.07.2011
Cleaning, doing the washing, preparing and serving meals − it is hoped that, in future, these and similar chores will be carried out by service robots.

The use of service robots in resident care facilities offers the potential to reduce the workload on carers, thereby allowing them to spend more time with residents. The "WiMi-Care" project has explored ways in which the robot assistant "Care-O-bot®" developed at Fraunhofer IPA can be used to serve drinks to residents at an old people's home and additionally to act as an entertainment platform. Real-world studies have been able to verify the ease of use of the robot by carers, the benefits of the robot as well as its acceptance by residents.


Care-O-bot fetching a drink from a water dispenser
© Fraunhofer IPA

Fraunhofer IPA has been engaged for over 10 years in developing a robot assistant »Care-O-bot®« to support people in their day-to-day lives. It is hoped that, in future, the use of such advanced technical assistance systems will enable elderly citizens and those in need of care to live independently in their own homes for longer and thus, despite the anticipated shortage of carers, to maintain a reasonable quality of life. Now in its third generation, the prototype »Care-O-bot®«, in its role as interactive butler, is already capable of carrying out a variety of fetch-and-carry tasks. »Thanks to its nearproduct design, the robot is especially well suited for evaluation by potential end-users,« explains Dr. Birgit Graf, head of the Domestic Service Robotics and Personal Robotics group at Fraunhofer IPA.

Within the »WiMi-Care« project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Care-O-bot® was for the first time tested for how it interacts with elderly people and those in need of care. A needs assessment was carried out at an old people's residential care home in order to identify two application scenarios for the robot: serving the residents with drinks and use as an entertainment platform. »A key requirement of the scenario selection was to make sure that the robot enables carers to devote more time to residents,« says Graf.

... more about:
»Care-O-bot® »Education »IPA »Robotic »Service robots

The robot was required to prove its worth in two real-world situations involving carers and senior citizens. »The goal of the second trial was to implement the selected application scenarios on the Care-O-bot® in such a way that the robot could be controlled by the carers and thus used in their day-to day work,« explains Graf. The trial assessed how easily the robot could be used by carers, what benefits it delivered and how positively it was accepted by all involved person groups.

To serve residents with drinks, Care-O-bot® is capable of using its robot arm to independently fill cups with water from a water dispenser and serve them to residents on its tray. Being connected to a database of residents allows the robot to identify individual residents at the facility. A record of drinks served, which is also stored in the database, enables the robot, as it moves around the facility, to single out those residents who have not had enough to drink. »Selective targeting of residents, combined with active follow-up, means we are able to make sure not only that residents are served with drinks, but also that they actually drink them,« says Fraunhofer researcher Theo Jacobs, who monitored the trial on site.

For use as an entertainment platform, the touch screen of the robot serves to launch games or memory-training programs, play music or recite poems. The robot is controlled by the carers using a specially developed graphical user interface. »With just a few clicks on the user interface, carers can give the Care-O-bot® its instructions for the day − and then spend more time with residents,« explains Jacobs.

The trial involved the robot being used mornings and afternoons on three consecutive days, for between one and two hours at a time. As was already the case during the initial assessment phase, there was no fear of contact with the robot. »The residents simply observed Care-O-bot® with curiosity and found it fascinating to watch it doing its work. Some of the residents in the dementia unit even developed a real fondness for the robot,« reports Jacobs. The carers, too, were well able to imagine working with a service robot in future.

Development of the Care-O-bot® is continuing at Fraunhofer IPA beyond the end of the WiMi-Care project. More especially, the robot's ability to assist elderly citizens in a domestic setting is being continuously improved and evaluated in the context of a number of research projects. The EU-funded SRS project (Multi-Role Shadow Robotic System for Independent Living) makes use of the possibility whereby the robot can be remotely controlled by relatives, thereby widening its scope of application. To ensure that communication between humans and robot takes place in an intuitive and socially acceptable manner, the aim of an EU project called Accompany (Acceptable robotiCs COMPanions for AgeiNg Years) is to develop new interfaces and components for user interaction. Both of these projects are planned to include extensive trials under real-world conditions to allow the robot to be constantly further developed in line with user requirements.

However, it is not enough to focus just on the robot. »To convert robot technology into real applications, it will be especially important in future to view the robot not as an isolated system, but as part of an integrated whole, embedded in a comprehensive service concept,« explains Ulrich Reiser, who is responsible at Fraunhofer IPA for coordinating development of the Care-O-bot®. With this in mind, the Tech4P project, which is being sponsored by the German

Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is aimed at developing strategies for how personal care services can be supported by the use of robot technology. »Such an integrated approach also includes the possibility of the robot being specifically adapted to suit a particular application,« continues Reiser. »Nonetheless, our ultimate development goal remains the everyday all-rounder.«

Hubert Grosser | Fraunhofer-Institut
Further information:
http://www.care-o-bot.de/
http://www.wimi-care.de/
http://www.srs-project.eu/

Further reports about: Care-O-bot® Education IPA Robotic Service robots

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Waste from paper and pulp industry supplies raw material for development of new redox flow batteries
12.10.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Low-cost battery from waste graphite
11.10.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>