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Researchers from the UC3M and the UPCT are developing robots to help people who live alone


Researchers from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and the Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena (UPCT) are designing robot assistants to help elderly people who live alone. Devices with a similar appearance to a Tamagotchi, although a little bigger, the size of a small dog, will contribute to improving the independence and moods of people with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative illnesses.

Investigadores de la UC3M y la UPCT desarrollan robots para ayudar a personas que viven solas

This project, “Heterogeneous Team intelligent multi-robot to assist elderly (HIMTAE)”, was recently launched and has been funded in the 2018 call for “R+D Projects Research Challenges” by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities. It aims to lay down the bases for future developments linked to cooperative assistant robotics.

According to Joaquín Roca, lecturer in the area of Electronic Technology at the UPCT, “a robotic device, developed by researchers from the Carlos III and in charge of aspects such as helping to cook and feed the person, among other things, actively collaborates with the robotic assistant being developed by the UPCT”. Researchers from the UPCT will develop another device, which will be a mobile robot that will interact with the UC3M’s device and send it information on the mood, vital signs and activity levels of the person, among others. Both devices will work cooperatively, according to the researchers. 

The subproject by the Carlos III “Heterogeneous Social-Mobile Manipulator Robot Intelligent Teams for Elderly-People Assistance (HEROITEA)", is coordinated by Ramón Barber Castaño and Santiago Garrido Bullón, main researchers from the UC3M, assigned to the Robotics Lab, one of the leading centres for Robotics and Automation, nationally and internationally. “This subproject includes tasks of perception, planning, robot navigation and grip, which will involve a big task of integration”, they say. At the same time, both the universities’ robotics systems will need to be integrated, the researchers point out. 

The subproject by the UPCT, "Robotic-based Well-Being Monitoring and Coaching for Elderly People during Daily Life Activities (RobWell RTI2018-095599-A-C22), is led by Óscar Martínez Mozos, a Ramón y Cajal researcher from the UPCT, from the Department of Electronics, Computer Technology and Projects. 

The device they aim to develop is half-way between a virtual butler and smart speakers, similar to Google’s, Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. For its design, the researchers have compiled the opinions and needs of voluntarily students from the Mature University at the UPCT and associates of AFAL (Association for Family Members and Sufferers of Alzheimer’s of the Region of Cartagena). This project was presented at the 10th Training day for “Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative illnesses. A 21st century challenge.” The first prototype is being developed in the Final Degree Project of a student studying a degree in Industrial Technologies, José Antonio Jiménez Viuda. 

This multidisciplinary project integrates knowledge on Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Home Automation, Biomedical Engineering and Psychology.