Three proposals have been awarded with contracts in the second stage of the SILVER competition. All these solutions will be entering the phase 2 of the Pre-Commercial Procurement process. Presented below are the companies that will develop prototype based on the results of their feasibility study conducted in Phase 1.
The HelpingHand is an intelligent robot arm providing support on the moment that the person is losing stability and fears falling or could actually fall. It follows passively all user’s movements and gets active (“freezes”) in user’s unstable situations or when the user gives the ´freeze command´ himself; the robotic device then becomes a stiff support.
HelpingHand is designed such that an inexperienced user can make use of the robot intuitively. It takes away the insecure feeling of instability during complex tasks for elderly and handicapped people, wherein a person’s hands and full attention are needed an activity. It supports in all bathroom activities and completely eliminates the help of a care taker. The HelpingHand robot arm will be fixed on the bathroom walls with minimum installation costs. In principle, the robotic solution could also be applied in supporting daily tasks in other parts of the house, to solve similar issues with stability.
In western European countries the publicly funded care system provides support for all who need this, but demographic changes and economic decline forces nations to reconsider the level of care provision. This is another reason why aging in place is to be preferred. A resulting substantial increase in demand for extramural care will nevertheless create a need for human support that cannot be solved with traditional formal and informal human care. The solution proposed by Alten Mechatronics will create substantial health care cost reductions as it will support elderly and handicapped people to live at home without the need for human care.
Lead: Alten Nederland B.V.
Iron Arm is a light and ergonomic soft robotics device with intention detection and mechatronic actuators that can be used to support personal activities of daily life for elderly users and collect data on their physical activities, allowing them to maintain muscle strength and increase their life expectancy, as well as helping them to recover faster from injuries or other hand mobility impairing diseases.
Compared with the Iron Arm, current assistive robotic systems are bulky pieces of equipment focusing on passive movements based on forced grip and have limited intention detection capabilities. They have been designed mostly for specific heavy duty activities or for therapeutic rehabilitation, and not for supporting activities of daily life.
Iron Arm targets two primary market segments:
• The end-user market, where the device can be purchased by healthy older adults and frail older adults suffering from chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (as much as up to 5 % of the population suffer from weak or painful handgrip) to support activities of daily life.
• The rehabilitation market, where the device can be used during early rehabilitation phases (and later rented out to the patient for use at home). Currently, the number of stroke survivors with disabilities is estimated to 30 million, and hemiparesis (reduced arm/hand function) is the most prevalent disability (affecting 80 % of the patients).
Lead: Bioservo Technologies AB
Robocare proposes an affordable robot with limited complexity but able to support various household tasks. The robot will be equipped with set of sensors for information acquisition, a mobile base, body and an complex arm with an under-actuated gripper able to grasp almost any object a human can also grasp, at various heights. To allow for easy personal transfer of elderly in their homes, the robot body will be extended with handles so that a robot can be transformed into an autonomous mobility device.
Furthermore, Robocare suggests a variety of software modules for the actions of the robot. These include collision avoidance, autonomous navigation, object manipulation, speech recognition, face recognition, object recognition as well as person tracking and action recognition. Each individual module directly interacts with the low-level control layer. Also a high level planner that will autonomously plan the actions of the robot dependent of the user’s behavior will be provided. Special attention is given to the safety aspects of our solutions.
A very intuitive and easy to use interface for user-robot interaction is proposed. Both remote control as well as fully autonomous behavior is provided and the user can control the robot either by manipulating it or through a tablet or a speech interface. Special attention is given also to elderly with hearing or / and visual problems.
In Robocare’s design the aim is to provide elderly with both physical as well as social support while keeping their privacy and personal space preserved. A large part of research will also be devoted to investigating safety regulations and making Lecorob safe for both elderly and their property. Finally, Robocare plans to adapt the solution to be applicable in case of elderly suffering from chronic diseases such as dementia or mobility problems.
Lead: Robocare (former Lerovis B.V.)