Posted by: robotnews | April 2, 2007

Nursebot–the robotic ‘angel’

There are many applications in the medical field for autonomous robotic systems. These include micro surgery, remote surgery e.t.c. These applications are often more advanced and complicated and thus are subject to much interest and research efforts. However, we cannot neglect the less glamorous fields of post surgery as well as out of hospital health care. I have chosen to look at the role that companion robots can fulfill in the healthcare industry.
Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh have jointly developed automated aides. These are ‘nursebots’ which are being designed to monitor elderly clients to provide healthcare roles such as reminding them to take their daily medication. These robots provide a two way link such that healthcare personnel can be used more efficiently as they can remotely monitor a larger number of patients at one time. It allows sick elderly patients to be able to receive the same nursing care at home as they have in the hospitals, allowing them to recuperate and heal in a less intimidating environment.
Much research has been done to ease the elderly into accepting robotic technology as the older generation is often suspicious and apprehensive about modern technology. This is done through the development of more humanlike robots in terms of movement as well as facial features.
These robots need to be meticulously tested and their functionality comprehensively accessed to ensure that they actually serve to facilitate health care for the elderly and can work bug-free. This is especially important as the elderly are physically vulnerable.

posted by Chen Songyi
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Responses

  1. u036147x
    adrian yang u0304837@nus.edu.sg

    In my opinion, there are disadvantages in using robots to take care of the elderly in that it is not always possible to get a tactile feedback from the robots. In addition, the human touch to physically interact with the elderly should not be replaced with something programmmable.

  2. This concept is a good idea because of the general shortage of the nursing community. Maintenance of such robots should also be much more affordable.

    However, I think they need to do something about how the robot looks…it is actually quite scary if you look at it during the night. @@

  3. This is actually very interesting but I am just wondering if the costs of having the robot actually exceeds the benefits. From what I see, the elderly would much prefer human than robot aids whom they can really interact with. Also, the main problem I see is if it is used in places such as Singapore would be that most of the elderly are illiterate and do not speak english. In fact, most of them are only fluent in their own native dialect and this can pose a problem as the robots will have to be multi-lingual. Also, what if the patient has a question to ask, for example, like what is the medicine used for, etc. I am just having doubts if the capabilities of the robot could be improved to the extent that it overcomes all possible limitations.

    Goh Pei Ming
    U049117N

  4. Comment from Jin Yunye U037842W

    This concept reminds of the last part of Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith, when a nursing robot was helping Padme to give birth.

    Compared to human nurses, well designed and tested robotics will definitely give more stable performance. Even the best trained nurse could experience frustration and impatience that affects their work. We humans are simply too sensitive to all kinds of input.

    Regarding the look of this nursing robot, I really think it would make me feel much comfortable if it does not have any look similar to human.

  5. Wu Ronghua U036423A
    I think it’s a good idea to have a nurse to remind the elderly to take their medications as they can be very forgetful sometimes. They do not have to remind the elderly verbally, but to bring the require medications to the elderly. This way the robots do not have to have the function of knowing the different languages.
    i agree with Yunye that the robots should not have a face of human. It is after all a robot.

  6. Comment from Jin Yunye U037842W

    Thanks Ronghua. Anyway, I do not mean that robot should not have human like faces or anyother human like features. However, the look of this particular robot is so “hybrid” that it makes me really feel weird and uncomfortable. I would prefer either a real human or a totally machine look robot than this one.

  7. To Ronghua: Hmm…but they do have the monitor where they can apparently converse with the patients in English..(looks at picture)

    Actually, I am just curious but can these robots give injections as well. Since they can get information directly from health care patients using the two way link, I am just wondering if it can do more sophisticated stuff like assisting the elderly in their toiletry needs, etc than just merely bringing medicine.

    Goh Pei Ming
    U049117N


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