Washington State University is now testing elderly care robots in homes. Scientists have created this robot to possibly help people who suffer from dementia or other illnesses that restrict them from doing everyday activities.
The WSU has a smart home that works with sensors that are embedded into a system called The Robot Activity Support System (RAS). This system helps determine the location of a resident and even what they are doing and if they need any assistance with a daily task. The robot goes from room to room looking for it’s resident or people all by itself. The robot provides video instructions on how to do certain tasks and can even show a resident where objects are such as medication or an item they need.
The smart home at WSU combines with the RAS system to help detect when help is needed or if something is not being done correctly or needs assistance. According to Cook and Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe who is a professor at WSU, there are 50% of adults that are needing help with everyday activities that are over the age of 80. This number is expected to triple by 2050. So whether it’s assistance with meals, getting dressed, or taking medications the estimated cost for this type of assistance in the United States is almost $2 trillion.
Maureen is working together with scientists to help improve technology so that these residents or patients can have help in their everyday lives as well as preparing for these financial costs. These patients or residents are not able to live independently and this robot and technology allows them to gain back some of that independence that they have lost.
In the study with the Robot Activity Support System students at Washington State University had to complete activities in the smart home using the RAS system. Activities included: walking the dog, taking medication and watering plants inside the home.
Whenever the smart home detected a struggle with one of these tasks while using it’s sensors the RAS received a message to assist the problem. The robot then uses its navigation camera, sensors, and software to find the resident or patient and offer further assistance. Once it relays the message to the person then they are shown how to fix the problem or led to where they need to be.