Israeli researchers get grant to develop robots to help the elderly

Project’s goal is to advance robotic adaptive person following algorithms.

Humanoid intelligent robot Alpha developed by UBTECH (photo credit: REUTERS)
Humanoid intelligent robot Alpha developed by UBTECH
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers are bringing closer the day when robots will help disabled elderly function at home in their daily routines.
Dr. Tal Oron-Gilad of the department of industrial engineering and management and Dr. Idit Shalev of the education department have received a grant from the Science, Technology and Space Ministry to develop algorithms to empower robots to help enable robots to assist the disabled. The project is entitled “Follow Me… Proxemics and Responsiveness for Following Tasks in Adaptive Assistive Robotics.”
As older adults want to remain independent as long as they can and human helpers come at a premium, robots can assist them in everyday tasks.
But introducing assistive robotics into their lives will be depend on user acceptance, satisfaction and affordability.
Robots have to move efficiently and be powerful enough power to carry objects. But the people they need to follow vary in their mobility and the way they walk. The human-robot system must adapt to the individual and be an appropriate distance away and responsive, especially for older users who may be more vulnerable and less technologically savvy.
The project’s goal is to advance robotic adaptive person following algorithms (APFA) to include concepts from human-human interaction. These include improving older users’ well-being and generating guidelines for future user attentive robotic assistants, highly individualized to the special needs of each elderly user.
The algorithm will adjust to user pace, abilities and actions, while taking into account the characteristics of the environment and the task as well, said Oron-Gilad and Shalev said. The project’s final outcomes will include guidelines for implementing and demonstrating the technology.
“While most person following algorithms focus on the effectiveness and efficiency of the robot, what is unique about our approach is that we focus on the effectiveness of the human-robot interaction by introducing constructs related to human-human interaction in space,” said Oron-Gilad.