Antonio Espingardeiro, member of the IEEE, Robotics inventor and researcherhas been building a robo-nurse for the elderly called P37. In this article he tells us about it:

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This year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas healthcare technology really took the centre stage. From wearable tech to mHealth and robot doctors, health and wellbeing tech has never featured like this before.

In this follow up to our article Robots for the Elderly, Antonio Espingardeiro – member of the IEEE, Robotics inventor and researcher who has been building a robo-nurse for the elderly called P37 – tells us more about it:

Antonio and P37

Antonio Espingardeiro, member of the IEEE, Robotics inventor and researcherhas been building a robo-nurse for the elderly called P37.

What I’m trying to create is a balance between something that is full of wires (machine type) and something that has anthropomorphic elements.

Currently in the prototype stage, P37 is a Socially Assistive Robot (SAR) that can provide cognitive assistance, entertainment, supervision and even companionship for elderly groups.

The humanoid robot is 5.4 ft high and weighs 70 pounds. It has a torso and a head although what I have found so far is that people don’t want robots that look too human. What I’m trying to create is a balance between something that is full of wires (machine type) and something that has anthropomorphic elements.

Some people suffer from huge cognitive limitations with ageing increase. They forget about time, taking medicine, and eating – these are serious scenarios. I want to create a robot that provides cognitive assistance, such as medication and task reminders.

By programming the robot with a list of daily medications and tasks the robot can remind people and their carers during the course of the day to carry out particular tasks reducing elderly memory loss and reinforcing the work of the staff.

Additional functions such as voice activation would be useful to order the robot to do certain actions. In the instance that the elderly person is unable to speak or perhaps see, I am planning to install a barcode system into the P37 robot – if the patient is unsure what medication to take, he or she could scan a bottle of medicine and the robot could tell them what it is and when to take it.

I am not looking to replace real people with robots here, but to enhance the care system’s ability to cope with the ever increasing number of elderly

The robot will be able to monitor the elderly person 24 hours a day if they live alone, which is much safer than having a nurse come in twice a day. Furthermore, by installing a screen into P37, elderly can avoid potentially distressing and painful journeys to their GPs by talking to them remotely.

I’m also developing a system that can detect the person’s walking gait. If he/she is not walking like they you used to the robot can alert the authorities who can then visit them and physically check out the person.

I am not looking to replace real people with robots here, but to enhance the care system’s ability to cope with the ever increasing number of elderly, in an economic environment where public services have to be well managed.