Posted by: robotnews | March 17, 2006

Robot nurse escorts and schmooze the elderly

U0205353 Chung Chan Lee

A robot that does more than clean the carpet
Robot nurse escorts and schmooze the elderly

Manager of Intel’s Proactive Health Research lab, Eric Dishman foresees that countries around the globe will soon face the problems associated with a cresting age wave. “Starting at the end of this decade, the first wave of baby boomers will retire and the population of eldery people will swell” he says.

Together with Pollack, and researchers from four schools: the University of Michigan, Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, and Stanford, the nursebot project has been started to test out a range of ideas for assisting elderly people, such as reminding elderly patients to visit the bathroom, take medicine, drink, or see the doctor; connecting patients with caregivers through the Internet; collecting data and monitoring the well-being of patients; manipulating objects around the home such as the refrigerator, washing machine, or microwave; taking over certain social functions with elderies

The robot Pearl is a typical prototype of the nursebot project. Pearl deals with old men and old women. Her job is mainly about reminding her clients to eat, drink, take medicine or use the bathroom, she also guides the old folks from room to room as she chats about the weather or TV listings. Pearl is a self-directed mobile robot with an advanced artificial intelligence to assist people with the activities of daily living.

This summer, this 4-and-a-half-foot-tall robot nurse is underway her field testing at Longwood Retirement Community in Oakmont, Pa., and She has won the hearts of elderly folks there. “We’re getting along beautifully,” says one older gentleman as Pearl leads him to a room for his therapy session at Longwood. “But, I won’t say whether she’s my kind of girl,” he quips.

Pearl manage to perform some simple face expression, tough still a little bit funny. Pearl’s designers say that they took special care to make Pearl prettier, but it’s what’s inside Pearl counts: Two Intel® Pentium® 4 processor-based PCs run software to endow her with wit and ability to navigate; a differential drive system propels her; Wi-Fi helps her communicate as she rolls along; laser range finders, stereo camera systems, and sonar sensors guide her around obstructions; microphones help her recognize words; speakers enable others to hear her synthesized speech; an actuated head unit swivels in lifelike animation. All this and more is housed in her slender frame.




  1. I do think Pearl is an interesting robot, but I am not convinced that Pearl should take over certain social functions with the elderly. It is indeed very useful to have robots that can help out with mundane household chores and caregiving of the elderly. However, I am worried that as technology advances even further, robots like Pearl may become so good at what they do that humans can delegate elderly care entirely to robots. It is really worrying. When u get old, would u like robots to be taking care of you? If however, robots are designed to complement humans and not replace them, then I am all for it! =)

  2. The robot with the face looks rather eerie with her face and lips. I dont think the elderly would like to be schmoozed by a robot. It will feel way too.. oh well artificial. By all means, build a robot that assist elderly around the house and help him/her with heavy stuff but the human touch of care and love, lets just leave it to humans.
    But still if the robot is intelligent enough to talk to the elderly and accompany them when they are lonely, thats also very good in helping them pass time and also be less lonely (even if its just a robot) it will be something like a pet but with no cleaning up required

  3. Forgot to leave my User ID at my previous comment..

    The previous comment is done by U0204912 Lin Zhiqiang

  4. U0300637 Choo Peng Yeow

    I agree with Kelvin that robots should not take over the social functions with the elderly. This robot idea of looking after the elderly is not very welcoming to me. Just imagine that my children would push me to a robot when I get old… Moreover, the robot nurse is so ugly… Haha…

    Rather, I think they should develop a robot dog to accompany the elderly, like the aibo but designed to accompany elderly. They have task such as alerting the relatives or police when the elderly were alone and they falls down or anything happen to them. In addition, they could go out with them and when they get lost, the robot dog could sound the alert again.

  5. u0300654 Li Junbin

    I don’t like the idea of having a robotic humanoid to accompany me when i am old. Maybe a maid will do a better job. Probably this is due to the physical apprearance of the robot, which don’t look very appealing to me. If the Robot Nurse is changed to Repliee Q1Expo, the beautiful human-look-alike robot, i think people might change the perception of Robot Nurse and accept it.

    As technology advances, physical appearance of robots will definitely change and not only the robot will look like human, but also the robot will behave like us.

  6. u025852E Chung Chan Lee

    ya, i also don’t like the idea of being taken care by a robot when i am old later. (though this post is written by me)

    but just like what the lecturer said in lecture, old people have some strange habbit of waking up at night or cannot sleep at night, it is not always possible for human nurse to stand by 24hrs the whole day. so presence of ‘pearl’ may help.

    i believe the decendants of ‘pearl’ is some robot like 3-Pi-o (in starwar remember???!!), i really don’t mind taken care by him…. haha…. strange robot that keep talking and talking all the way. so won’t get bored.

  7. It is very interesting that the robot can have some face expressions. The old people may like robot to take care of them if the robot can do a good job. Robots is more lovable because they will never complain and they are allegiant.

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