Robots are already part of our lives, and humanoids capable of assisting people with their everyday tasks could become popular within the next few years. French companies have already started focusing on the subject.
A robot auxiliary assistant already exists, its name is Nao and it was created in 2006 by French robotic company Aldebran Robotics. It offers physical and cognitive assistance to seniors. It supervises medication intake, detects unusual movements and is capable of contacting relatives or a doctor in case of an emergency. Nao is still only a prototype but Romeo, its bigger brother, is in the process of development. The latter will look even more like a human being, measuring one metre and sixty centimetres (5 ft 3). It will be capable of bending over, holding and picking up a person.
Nao Is Already an Assistant in a Long Term Care Facility
Besides, Nao already collaborates at the Lasserre EHPAD centre in Issy-les-Moulineaux, in France. The Nao’s on-board software is called Zora : Zorg Ouderen Revalidatie en Animatie, which in English translates into : care, rehabilitation and facilitation for old-aged people.
The robot measures 58 centimetres, weighs 5.4kg, is autonomous and it is equipped with a great many sensors which help it listen and move by itself.
Contrary to what we could think, seniors were really excited about the mini robot. The latter represents a genuine assistant for auxiliary nurses and offers company to patients who do not have visits that often. It can speak 19 languages, connect to the Internet to answer questions, offer gymnastics exercises, dance to different rhythms and stimulate memory thanks to its therapeutic exercises.
A Large Number of Robots on the Market
Nao is not the only robot dedicated to personal care services. Buddy was designed by French start-up company Blue Frog Robotic. It is 60 centimetres tall and can convey various emotions thanks to the screen which serves it as its face. It can also play scrabble, tell stories or play music. But most importantly, Buddy is capable of identifying a box of prescription drugs, of detecting smoke or a fall.
There is also GiraffPlus which is not exactly human-like. It moves on wheels and it is equipped with a screen through which one can communicate at a distance. Although it is not as cute as Buddy, it allows people to stay in contact with relatives.
The Japanese are also on top of their game with Robear (the abbreviation of the words « robot » and « bear ») : an actual size bear-shaped robot, robust and capable of lifting up a person.
Is that the future of personal care services?
New, bigger and wilder robots have been created. That is the case for Atlas, created by Boston Dynamics (Alphabet, formerly Google). It measures 1.75 metres (5 ft 9), and weighs 82 kg. Atlas is capable of opening doors, carrying packages or regaining its balance when pushed over. These tasks which may seem simple to humans are actually very hard to achieve for a robot. This kind of machine could be used at retirement homes, hospitals or at people’s homes in the future in order to accompany them and ensure their safety on a daily basis.
Sources (French language) :
– Le Monde : http://www.lemonde.fr/robotique/article/2015/04/21/zora-la-solution-robotique-au-service-des-seniors_4620124_4620106.html
– Arte : http://www.arte.tv/magazine/futuremag/fr/quel-robot-pour-vos-grands-parents-futuremag
– Le Monde Pixels : http://www.lemonde.fr/pixels/article/2016/02/24/un-nouveau-robot-humanoide-tres-performant-devoile-par-une-entreprise-d-alphabet_4870864_4408996.html
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