Me he cruzado buscando por internet con algunos proyectos de robótica para el cuidado y el asunto ha capturado poderosamente mi atención. En muchos de ellos se parte de una argumentación parecida a la que se da en la película anime de ciencia ficción Roujin-Z (de la que podéis ver el trailer americano aquí): sociedades super-envejecidas que no pueden contar con personas cuidadoras humanas y, por tanto, se enfrascan en un desarrollo de tecnologías robóticas para el cuidado.
Como también ocurriera en Roujin-Z muchos de estos proyectos son desarrollados en conjunción por industrias orientadas al cuidado (sanitario y social) e industrias militares.
– RIBA (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance)
Según información encontrada en la web Pink Tentacle el proyecto RIBA “was developed by researchers at Japan’s Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN) and Tokai Rubber Industries, Ltd. (TRI). Designed primarily to assist nurses by lifting patients in and out of their beds and wheelchairs (as well as on and off the toilet), the 180-kilogram (400-lb) robot can safely pick up and carry people weighing as much as 61 kilograms (135 lbs).”
Aquí podéis echar un vistazo a la nota de prensa de RIKEN en inglés.
– PaPeRo (Partner-type-Personal-Robot)
De acuerdo con la web de la empresa desarrolladora NEC: “The PaPeRo has been researched and developed with the intention of its being a partner with human beings and its being able to live together with them.For this reason, it has various basic functions for the purpose of interacting with people.Here we introduce the essential elements and functions needed for that interaction.”
– BEAR (Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot)
Según la web del TATRC (Telemedicine & Advance Technology Research Center), un centro especializado en tecnología militar o para el ejército estadounidense: “Vecna Technologies Inc. is building and testing a highly agile and powerful mobile robot capable of lifting and carrying an injured human out of harm’s way using a gyro balance system mounted on two wheeled (tracked) base. The gyro system and tracked base are intended to give the robot a high degree of mobility over rough, uneven terrain and dynamic balancing behavior for high-speed mobility when speed is needed […] Since the design features a torso and arms that use a unique hydraulic system that can lift and carry its cargo or “passengers” safely and effectively up to 500 pounds, it could be leveraged for logistic support missions as well as medical missions. ”
Se trata, por tanto, de un proyecto de robótica en el que la idea es poder atender tanto a los soldados caídos en combate como a los enfermos y personas con discapacidad “at home”.
– Fujitsu’s Robotic Care Bear
Según la entrada de la web Plastic Pals: “The Fujitsu Research Institute has developed a therapeutic robot teddy bear that can recognize and respond to facial expressions and behavior which it plans to sell to hospitals and schools. The robot’s name hasn’t yet been released, as it will be officially demonstrated this week at an exhibition in Tokyo. The bear has been in development for years, but it will likely raise eyebrows at the MIT Media Lab, which developed a similar robot bear called Huggable (unveiled in 2008).
The robot’s nose is actually a camera, which recognizes individuals and motions such as waving, and its body and head contain touch sensors so it knows when it is being held or patted. The bear can respond by giggling, crying, and swinging its hands and feet, along with 300 preloaded actions such as falling asleep and snoring. AIST’s robotic seal Paro may finally have some serious competition, though it was recently revealed that despite strong international sales the robot has barely broken even due to its long and costly development. A couple more photos follow after the break.”
Según la entrada de la web Plastic Pals: “Panasonic’s autonomous delivery robot HOSPI will be deployed in South Korean hospitals beginning this May. Panasonic Electric Works have been developing the robots with the Shiga University of Medical Science Hospital since 1998, with the first robots being field tested in 2002. The robots have been in active use in Japanese hospitals since 2006. The HOSPI robots come in a variety of form factors, built to deliver 20kg (44 lbs) of food, linens, medicine, documents, blood samples, and X-ray films, etc.. Patients’ confidentiality is protected by a Personal Identification Number. Traveling at a rate of up to 1 meter per second, the robots save nurses the trouble of traveling back and forth all the time.”
La entrada de la web Plastic Pals menciona el “Georgia Tech Healthcare Robotics Lab’s latest robot in development, a humanoid named Cody that can open doors, drawers, and cabinets. It can be controlled using a PlayStation-style game controller or simply guided by physical interaction thanks to the force-torque sensors in the robot’s wrists. This means that people unfamiliar with video game interfaces can move the whole robot, its arms, or adjust the height of its torso by hand.
Equipped with stereo cameras for vision and a laser range finder, the robot’s upper body uses Meka Robotics’ 7 DOF arms (also used by Georgia Tech’s Simon) which is mounted to a 1 DOF linear actuator to dynamically change height. It all sits on top of a Segway RMP 50 Omni mobile base, which moves on Mecanum wheels. Currently Cody is equipped with simple hooks for manipulators, but with Meka Robotics developing a more human-like hand with 3 fingers and a thumb, it’s possible that Cody will be fetching things (even stuff stored away) for bedridden patients at some point in the future […]”
La entrada de la web Plastic Palss habla de TWENDY-ONE como “product of more than 10 years of research led by Professor Shigeki Sugano and his team of researchers at Waseda University, along with the cooperation of more than 20 private companies, to build a robot that co-exists with human beings in a super-aging society. Although it is easier to attract attention with entertaining bipedal robots, the researchers had the lofty goal of creating a practical robot that could safely assist the elderly in everyday tasks. The result is one of the world’s most advanced humanoid robots […]
Its most innovative feature is its mechanical passive impedance mechanism, which is used throughout its body to adapt to unexpected external forces. It has a total of 47 degrees of freedom (2 hands x13, 2 arms x7, neck x3, body x4) and can move in virtually any direction. It can bend at the waist allowing it to pick up objects from the floor, and is strong enough to support a person’s weight (up to 35kg [77 lbs]) as they get out of bed or up from a chair. From a practical standpoint, this may not seem like enough, but actually statistics show that more than half of people requiring nursing care are relatively healthy and don’t require full assistance.”
Más información en la web oficial de TWENDY-ONE
– Paro Robotic Therapy Seal
Según la entrada de la web Plastic Pals: “AIST has been involved with industrial-grade humanoids for years, but they’ve also explored therapeutic robots which present no risk of allergic reaction or potentially traumatizing animal attack. Paro, the robotic seal, has already proven successful in calming belligerent patients suffering from dementia in Japanese and American hospitals. Specifically, three main benefits have been shown:
* Alleviating depression
* Psychological advantages (stress reduction)
* Social benefits (increased communication)
And it’s not just the elderly that are benefiting from Paro’s therapeutic charms. Autistic and handicapped children are being introduced to him already, with the robot being shipped to more than 20 countries worldwide. Not bad for a glorified stuffed animal.
AIST originally made Paro in the shape of a kitten, but it proved a little too uncanny for patients who had prior experience with cats. A seal pup, they figured, is unusual enough that patients would be less prone to notice its robotic predisposition. Researchers even went on an arctic expedition to collect photos of the real thing!
Paro comes equipped with surface tactile sensors in its body and whiskers which allow the robot to respond to touch. It has limited movement, but can raise its head, wiggle its fins, blink, and make cute noises. The average life expectancy of Paro is about 10 to 20 years, with annual battery exchanges and fur cleanings costing little more than a check-up for a real pet. All of these benefits considered, Paro seems like a pretty good deal at a cost of around $6000 per unit.”
Web oficial de Paro Robots
– Panasonic’s Robotic Bed
Según la entrada de la web Plastic Pals: “The mattress part can fold up into a motorized wheelchair which disconnects from the rest of the unit, without the person having to get up first. This system eliminates the physical stress and risk involved when lifting a patient into and out of bed and wheelchair. The wheelchair even has built-in obstacle detection so that it can avoid bumping into things. The overhead canopy has a television and is connected to a home network, allowing the user to control connected home appliances. It sounds like a pretty incredible system, and Panasonic will be exhibiting it at Tokyo Big Sight at the end of September”.
Más información en la nota de prensa de Panasonic
– Familiy Nanny Robot
Según la entrada de Plastic Pals: “Built by Shenyang Siasun Robot & Automation Co. Ltd., the Family Nanny Robot can speak, send text messages, and alert the authorities in the case of an emergency. For example its environmental sensors can detect a gas leak, and if no one is home it will contact the home owner through text or email. It can operate up to 8 hours after only a 2 hour charge since its power consumption is less than a home computer. Standing approximately 80cm (31″) tall, and weighing 25kg (55 lbs), the robot can move freely throughout the home on a pair of wheels, autonomously avoiding furniture and other obstacles with sensors.
Siasun will also position it as an elder care robot, which could alleviate loneliness by chatting with the elderly and allow two-way telemedicine check-ups through its large display and camera. Additionally the robot could play interactive games to exercise and test mental fitness. In about 5 years, people will be able to purchase the Family Nanny Robot for approximately 10,000 Chinese Yuan ($1,500 USD), and Siasun says it is also developing rescue robots in its R&D department that could be deployed in the event of an earthquake or mining accident”.
Otra fuente interesante de información parece la web del portal de robótica Hizook