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MEAM Seminar: “From Elder Care Service Robots to the Design of Low-Cost End-Effectors and Novel Manipulation Techniques”
August 6 at 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Older adults are forming a much larger percentage of the population leading to a strain in the healthcare sector. It is expected that the population aged 65 and over in the United States alone will double in the next 30 years, and similarly worldwide. Despite abundance of the facilities to accommodate the growing older adult population, there is a shortage of caregivers to staff these facilities. With the scarcity of care options available, low-cost robots may be a creative and vastly accessible solution for simple mobile and manipulation tasks that would normally be handled by a caregiver.
This work proposes an investigation on both behavioral and technical aspects of human robot interaction in elder care settings, in view of a low-cost platform capable of executing desired tasks. The behavioral investigation combines a qualitative study with focus groups and surveys from not only the elders’ standpoint, but also from the standpoint of healthcare professionals to investigate suitable tasks to be accomplished by a service robot in such environment. Through multiple deployments of the robot at actual elder care facilities (such as at a low-income Supportive Apartment Living, SAL) and interaction with older adults, design guidelines are developed to improve on both interaction and usability aspects. The technical investigation proposes novel manipulation techniques and end-effector design focusing on minimizing hardware usage and cost, in addition to comply with safety constraints imposed by elder care facilities. Object picking through in-hand manipulation using custom-made end-effectors with no internal mobility (or zero degrees-of-freedom, DOF) is proposed. The resulting operation incorporates tipping and regrasping as in-hand manipulation operations. The lack of mobility is advantageous as no active forces can be applied directly to the object by the end-effector, and so the manipulated item be safely placed or removed by humans interacting with the robot, a desirable feature for manipulation tasks especially in elder care settings.
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, University of Pennsylvania
Advisor: Mark Yim