US Pharm. 2008;33(8):80.
In the future, robots could be taking the place of traditional caregivers of the elderly. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a robot that can perform many of the routine tasks expected of caregivers. Some of the things the robot can do are dialing 911 in case of emergency, reminding patients to take their medication, helping with grocery shopping, and "talking" to health care providers and loved ones by means of a monitor located where the robot's "head" would be and a wireless Internet connection.
The inventors say that the robot, known as the uBot-5, could allow elders to live independently and relieve an already heavily stressed health care system. In addition to relatively routine functions, the robot can do certain chores that some senior citizens would normally have a difficult time performing. For example, if a delivery person leaves a package in the hallway, the robot's sensors are trained to notice it and push it out of the way if it is blocking a path. The robot has a fair amount of dexterity for carrying out routine cleaning and shopping functions. It also has a built-in camera with two-way communication so that the elderly person can communicate with relatives and friends.
The researchers studied developmental neurology to create the robot's "arms." As a result, the uBot-5's arm motors are analogous to the muscles and joints in our own arms; the robot can raise itself to a vertical position if it falls over, and it can perform various other humanlike tasks.
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