Health / Features

Bristol robots to help elderly

By ann sheldon, Tuesday Aug 2, 2016

The Anchor Robotics Personalised Assisted Living (ARPAL) facility has opened to allow robotics researchers to work alongside elderly people in need of assistance – to devise and test new robotic solutions in a home environment.

UK life expectancy is now 79 years for men and 82 years for women and physical and cognitive frailty mean many can no longer live in their homes without assistance. Japan, with an aging population and its robotics expertise has led the world in devising robotic aids to help the elderly have to leave their home. One of Bristol oldest charities, The Anchor Society, founded in 1769 which supports the elderly in the region, has funded the new facility at UWE, to enable more people to age actively in their own homes.

Molly lends a helping screen

The work is focused on enabling elderly people to live safe and independent lives in their own homes for as long as possible with personally adaptive robotic systems.  

The new ARPAL facility offers a ‘Living Lab’ environment to co-create new designs alongside with the end-users in replicated home environments. The lab resembles a typical single level home, with an open-plan living, dining and kitchen area plus bathroom and bedroom. This enables researchers to carry out experiments of innovative robotic technology in a lifelike environment to develop practical solutions in situ. 

A network of wireless sensors is linked to a Smart Home Controller Hub, Wi-Fi cameras and an ADSL connection. The UWE Bristol team at Bristol Robotic Labs use the data from the sensors to record patterns of activity in the house and build adaptable algorithms. These can record individual habits to create robot systems adapted to each individual’s lifestyle to support independent living.

The new setting is being developed to enable teamwork with elderly people, carers, families, clinicians and residential care providers who will all help in the future development of novel robots to respond to personal needs.

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Molly switch the kettle on

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