Printer friendly version Share

News Release

Domestic robot helps sick elderly live independently longer

22 April 2010 Eindhoven University of Technology

To enable elderly people to live at home as long as possible, a group of European researchers, coordinated from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), will link robots and 'smart homes'. The robot, a 'sensible family friend', will ensure that home is a nice place to stay. And that patients do the right things.

The recently started research project, which has been named KSERA (Knowledgeable Service Robots for Aging) focuses in particular on COPD patients, people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In 2030 this disease will be the third cause of death worldwide, according to expectations of the World Health Organization. The disease especially affects old-aged people.

Family friend

In three years several demonstration houses should be finished. They will be equipped with a robot and the domestic systems of a 'smart home' – think of self-opening curtains. The central role is played by the 'domestic robot'. It follows patients through the house, learns their habits, watches them closely, gives sound advice, turns the air conditioning up or down a bit, and warns a doctor when the patient is not doing well. In addition, the robot also provides entertainment in the form of the Internet and videos. "We want to show what is possible in this area ", says project coordinator dr. Lydia Meesters about the goal of the project.

Not cold

The TU/e researcher, from the Department of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences, emphasizes that this new type of intelligent care house will not be a cold environment. "It should be as homely as possible. In an ideal situation the only technology you see will be the robot. It will be the contact for all the domestic systems. Otherwise the place will just look very homely."

Understanding

To achieve all this, a number of European parties will be conducting research in the next few years. For instance, dr. ir. Raymond Cuijpers, also from TU/e, will study how a robot should communicate so that a human being understands it and vice versa. This must be done in a natural way, which will only be possible if a robot really understands the patient’s wishes. It must be smart and able to anticipate. KSERA will also link up with the TU/e-led project RoboEarth, which is going to build a kind of global central memory for robots. This will enable robots to learn from each other, for instance to communicate better with people.

Privacy

Ethical issues will also be given special attention. The robot must give good advice to patients, but it should not be a policeman, Meesters explains. What to do, for example, when a COPD patient lights a cigarette? And what may the robot system pass on to 'the central operator', and what not? Meesters: "We need to define clear limits, for the robot will continuously measure and see very private data."

Parties involved

The project has a total budget of almost 4 million euros, 2.9 million of which will be furnished by the EU. Other parties involved are the Italian research center Institute Superiore Mario Boella, Vienna University of Technology, Hamburg University, the Italian ICT company Consoft, the Central European Institute of Technology in Vienna and the Israeli care provider Maccabi Healthcare Services. The demonstration houses will be located at the two last-mentioned parties.

Attached files

  • nao-robot 282x188.jpg A Nao robot. In the KSERA project this standard robot will be the basis. It will among other things be fitted with a projector, so that it can show pictures.


App animated no finger eNEWS ad2 Translation page link Facebook-Twitter3 WCSJ ad