ROBOTS FOR AGEINGThe project has three types of applications: mobility, daily life and socialisation.These applications are developed on two robots : Astro, based on the SCITOS G5 mobile platform which is suitable for heavy duties, and Buddy, a small-sized robot, designed as a home companion.
Astro is an assistive smart robotic platform dedicated to mobility and user interaction. It has been designed for moving within unstructured home and residence environments. It is a big robot, solid enough to become a smart walker. It can identify the location of the user at home and to interact with him using natural language, touch screen and visual LED system. On its back, the robot has an adaptable physical support to help people to stand up.
The work on ASTROMOBILE will aim at improving its smart walker capability and other services to meet the application requirements.
Smart walkers have to take into account usability issues, such as, safety, comfort and simplicity of the use of the device. For this purpose, oriented research is performed in order to improve its current status to be used as support on walking.
First of all, changing the current way of input, based on buttons on the handle with new and more usable sensors, as pressure and force sensors, in order to understand the intention of the users.
Furthermore, research on human-robot shared control is needed to develop a reactive control, able to deal with differences among multiple users. Moreover, physical human robot interaction (pHRI) strategies will be studied to provide information to the users on autonomous reaction of mobile platform, for example stopping to avoid collision or slightly deviating from users’ input to avoid obstacle in the environment Concerning issues of close to person navigation (precision/safety), the Astro robot is a prototype research platform and therefore not all issues of ISO 13482 (Robots and robotic devices) are already satisfied; however, since it is based on a commercial platform, several specifications are already solved, as the presence of bumpers and emergency buttons or a low centre of gravity.
APPLICATION SUPPORTED BY ASTRO
This solution consists in a robotics mobility application for ageing focusing on walking support. It focuses on a specific service which is to maintain the walking capacity.
Buddy is physically the opposite of Astro. It is a small-sized robot and designed as a companion at home. He cannot be physically a support for walking. The Development Tools (SDK) are based on the Open-Source technologies such as Unity3D (video games) and OpenCV (aimed at real-time computer vision) to develop advanced applications for the robot.
The work on Buddy in the project will aim at integrating new applications and potentially, new hardware, in order to meet the use cases requirements in a different approach than the Astro robot. The Buddy robot can be connected to the home system and internet environment in order to fulfill its tasks.
Overall, the challenge will be to design new smart applications using the agile co-creation process. Concerning issues of close to person navigation (precision/safety), Buddy is a lightweight robot that is aimed for the consumer market, and therefore compliant in particular with ISO 13482.
APPLICATIONS SUPPORTED BY BUDDY
The aim of the Daily Life solution is to facilitate everyday life in the context of ageing, with a focus on household chores. The objectives of the application are to promote behaviours that support ageing well, such as decision-making, hydration and social links.
The socialisation solution focuses on conversation. The ACCRA application will explore and assess interactions schemes where user’s internal curiosity displayed in normal life is exercised during interactions.