The Loh Down On Science

Elder Bot

Who needs a Boy Scout to help grandma cross the street? She's got a Care-o-bot.

Who says you can't get good help these days?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

Growing numbers of elder folk need assistance. . .

And, says engineer Birgit Graf of Stuttgart's Fraunhofer Institute. . . Who better than Robots?

Robotic assistants have been around for YEARS. But Graf has applied German engineering to the most advanced prototype yet. Her "Care-o-bot," is a five-foot-tall computerized aid with one arm, four wheels, and a database to make R2-D2's head spin.

Its lasers and camera can scan a room in three dimensions, in real time. Program in the floorplan and Care-o-bot navigates through a nursing home.

Wave a mug in front, and Care-o-bot's arm instantly knows to hand grandma her coffee. When humans cross its path, Care-o-bot senses their presence, and stops.

Its stable base makes it especially good as a walking support: "Grasp my arm, oh elder-unit, and I shall return you safely to Cubicle 12D." OK, it doesn't talk. It does respond to voice commands--

But does it fill in Bingo cards? Inquiring old minds want to know! Next game starts in t-minus 10.


blog comments powered by Disqus