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RIKEN: RIBA-II, the Next Generation Care-giving Robot


August 2, 2011 - Tokyo

A new robot using high-precision tactile sensors and flexible motor control technology has taken Japan one step closer to its goal of providing high-quality care for its growing elderly population. Developed by researchers at RIKEN and Tokai Rubber Industries (TRI), the new robot can lift a patient up to 80kg in weight off floor-level bedding and into a wheelchair, freeing care facility personnel of one of their most difficult and energy-consuming tasks.

With an elderly population in need ofnursing care projected to reach a staggering 5.69 million by 2015, Japan faces an urgent need for new approaches to assist care-giving personnel. One of the most strenuous tasks for such personnel, carried out an average of 40 times every day, is that of lifting a patient from a futon at floor level into a wheelchair. Robots are well-suited to this task, yet none have yet been deployed in care-giving facilities.

In 2009, the RIKEN-TRI Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research(RTC), a joint project established in 2007 and located at the Nagoya Science Park in central Japan, unveiled a robot called RIBA (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance) designed to assist in this task. The first robot capable of lifting a patient from a bed to a wheelchair and back, RIBA charted a new course in the development of care-giving robots, yet functional limitations prevented its direct commercialization.

RTC's new robot, named RIBA-II, overcomes these limitations with added power and functionality. New joints in the robot's base and lower back enable RIBA-II to crouch down and lift a patient off a futon at floor level, the most physically strenuous task for care-givers and one that RIBA was not able to do. RIBA-II accomplishesthis task using newly-developed Smart Rubber sensors, the first capacitance-type tactile sensors made entirely of rubber. Printed in sheets and fitted onto the robot's arms and chest, the sensors enable high-precision tactile guidance and allow RIBA-II to quickly detect a person's weight from touch alone, guaranteeing patient safety.

In the future, RTC researchers will work together with partner nursing care facilities to test RIBA-II and further tailor it to the needs of care-givers and their patients, while also developing new applications in areas such as rehabilitation. TRI aims to bring care-giving robots like RIBA-II to the market in the near future, promising support for aging populations in countries around the world.

Press document (with Fingures):
http://www.riken.go.jp/engn/r-world/info/release/press/2011/110802_2/index.html

Related URL:
http://www.youtube.com/user/rikenchannel?feature=mhee#p/u/3/wyNa7b4eHRo

About RIKEN Institute

RIKEN, one of Japan's leading research institutes, conducts basic and applied experimental research in a wide range of science and technology fields including physics, chemistry, medical science, biology and engineering. Initially established as a private research foundationin Tokyo in 1917, RIKEN became an independent administrative institution in 2003. For more information, visit www.riken.jp/engn/index.html.


Contact:

Shijie Guo
Robot Implementation Research Team
RIKEN-TRI Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research
Tel: +81-(0)568-77-4955 +81-(0)52-736-5867
Fax: +81-(0)568-77-2976 +81-(0)52-736-5871
Email: tri.guo@nagoya.riken.jp

Hiroyuki Ito
Nagoya Research Promotion Office
RIKEN Nagoya Facility
Email: hito@riken.jp

Global Relations Office
RIKEN
Tel: +81-(0)48-462-1225
Fax: +81-(0)48-463-3687
Email: koho@riken.jp

Distributed for RIKEN by ResearchSEA.

Source: RIKEN

Copyright 2011 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved.

ACN Newswire

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