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QoLT Projects Featured in Popular Science Gallery

September 21, 2010
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The PerMMA robot

The PerMMA and Herb robots were featured in a gallery on Popular Science website entitled “Rise of the Helpful Machines“.  The gallery highlights 10 robots from universities around the world that were built for the purpose of helping people, particularly the elderly and disabled.

The HERB Robot

[via Popular Science]


Technology Helping the Elderly

March 26, 2010

The QoLT ERC here in Pittsburgh isn’t the only place that thinks technology can help the elderly.  Researchers at the University of West England (UWE) are using sensor-instrumented houses and clothing to monitor and report on well-being.  The sensors are all networked to a Kompai robot.

We are also investigating the use of wearable sensors to monitor behavior as part of the Virtual Coach project.  And like the Kompai robot, CMU has their own Snackbot robot that navigates congested areas and interacts with people, offering them a tasty (and healthy) snack.

[via Science Daily]

Scyfy Helper Robots Not So Sci-fi

February 11, 2010

I came across a post on SingularityHub today discussing elements of the Scyfy channel show Caprica which are not so science fiction, even today.  In particular, they pointed out the helper robot, Serge, is not unlike other technology that helps us in our homes today.  Some technologies singled out in the article are Siri, a virtual assistant app for the iPhone, vacuum robots like the Roomba and Neato, and telepresence robots from the likes of Willow Garage and Anybots.

Here at the QoLT Center we are also focused on bringing technology into the home as part of our Active Home project.  In a collaboration with Intel, students and faculty are developing algorithms for Herb, a mobile robot with a robot arm and hand with several kinds of sensors mounted on it that allow it to sense and manipulate the environment.  Herb has demonstrated tasks such as autonomously loading a dishwasher and grabbing items from the refrigerator, as shown in the video below:

So as you can see, a lot of things we once thought were science fiction are not so far off these days.

Willow Garage Telepresence Robots

February 2, 2010

Willow Garage Texas Alpha Robots

Willow Garage has built 25 Texas Alpha telepresence robots.  The robots consist essentially of a computer screen and camera mounted on a mobile base.  They also run their Robot Open Source (ROS) software and are very customizable.  Given the current predicted shortage of caregivers, telepresence robots could certainly find a use allowing a caregiver to easily interact and check in with multiple patients without having to visit them in person.

[via Willow Garage]

RoboEarth To Create World Wide Web for Service Robots

February 2, 2010

TU Eindhoven has been awarded a 5.6 million Euro grant for their RoboEarth project.  The goal of the project is to create a “world wide web for robots,” where robots can learn from each other and share “action recipes.”  Their primary application will be service robots in the healthcare industry:

As a demonstrator a service robot for patient companion in a hospital environment will be build.  At four sites in Europe a hospital room will be furnished where a companion robot will perform several tasks such as serving a drink from a refrigerator or pick up a newspaper for a patient confined to his bed.

Zwigle, O., et. al., “RoboEarth: Connection Robots Worldwide,” in Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Interaction Sciences: Information Technology, Culture and Human, 2009.

[via Robotland, Techzine]

Transforming Lives Through Innovative Technology

February 1, 2010

Creating intelligent systems that enable older adults and people with disabilities to live independently

The Quality of Life Technology (QoLT) Center is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (ERC) whose mission is to transform lives in a large and growing segment of the population – people with reduced functional capabilities due to aging or disability. Future compassionate intelligent QoLT systems will monitor and communicate with a person, understand her daily needs and tasks, and provide reliable and happily-accepted assistance by compensating and substituting for diminished capabilities.

QoLT is a unique partnership between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh that brings together a cross-disciplinary team of technologists, clinicians, industry partners, end users, and other stakeholders to create revolutionary technologies that will improve and sustain the quality of life for all people.

Read more about the impact of this research here.