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European researchers study social robots for elderly assistance
01 May 2012
On May 2-4, 2012, a group of about 25 European researchers will meet at the University of Orebro, Sweden, to design robots that can help the elderly and their family to live a better and more independent life. The event is part of the project "Robot-Era", which is funded by the European Commission and which will last for 4 years, from January 2012 to December 2015. The project, coordinated by the Italian "Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna", includes a mix of universities, research centers, private companies and public bodies from four EU countries: Italy, the UK, Germany and Sweden.
The objective of the Robot-Era project is to integrate robots and smart environments, to produce new technological solutions that improve the quality of life of elderly people, as well as of the people (family, care givers) around them. Robot-Era researchers intend to use three types of robots: A domestic robot will provide day to day assistance in the home; an outdoor robot will help the elderly in the street or in the shops, e.g., by carrying goods or providing orientation; and a condominium robot will facilitate tasks like transporting heavy groceries from the street to the home or bringing down the garbage. The different robots will cooperate with each-other and with the smart environment, so together they can manage complex tasks. This distributed solution is expected to be the key to make the whole system affordable and acceptable to the citizen. Robot-Era is a world-leading project in the area of technology for elderly people.
In Sweden, the Robot-Era project is carried out at the AASS Cognitive Robotic Systems laboratory of the University of Orebro, under the leadership of Prof. Alessandro Saffiotti. The robotic solutions developed in the Robot-Era project will be extensively tested in Ängen, a senior residential building in Örebro managed by Länsgården AB, who is a partner in the project. Extensive tests will also be performed in the small town of Peccioli, in the heart of Tuscany. Usability, acceptability, sustainability, and meeting the real needs of the elderly are top priorities for Robot-Era.