Robot for the Elderly
Many of us (hopefully all of us) will grow old and possibly require assistance getting up and around. When that involves getting from the floor up to a wheelchair, even a professional caregiver can have difficulties. Fortunately RIKEN in Japan has a plan for their nation; robots. Previously they have developed the Robot for Interactive Body Assistance, or RIBA, but it was not strong enough to lift someone. Now they have RIBA-II that can pick up an 80 Kg (176 lb.) patient while a caregiver guides it. This is accomplished not only by greater strength and improved joints but also by using Smart Rubber Sensors. These are the first capacitance-type tactile sensors to be made entirely out of rubber and allow the robot to immediately determine the weight of an individual from touch alone.