Robotic Dogs Redesigned to Care for the Elderly
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati are developing robotic pets to help care for the elderly.
Led by professor Claudia Rebola, a team of researchers is working to make robotic pets more realistic and practical. For example, they could one day check your vitals when you pull them in for a warm embrace (hug).
The team recently received a $1 million National Science Foundation grant to redesign an existing line of toys owned by Ageless Innovation, a company founded by former Hasbro executives.
The company recently acquired the Joy For All Companion Pets product line, which has been on the market since 2015 and feature simple, toy-like designs, sounds and movements to provide comfort, companionship and fun for elderly users.
Rebola's team wants to take the toys and turn them into the next-generation of robotic intelligence that provides psychosocial support for older adults.
In initial interviews, they found that users wanted a dog that was more realistic. The new prototype is modeled after the Yorkshire terrier -- which is one of the most popular breeds among older adults.
Working with high-quality faux fur, the team wants the new dogs to be "more pettable and lifelike." Students also redesigned the body to make it less mechanical and more flexible while improving the eyes, nose and paws.
The team is adding more technology as well, particularly the ability to detect/prevent falls, connect users to caregivers, emergency services and loved ones, check vital signs and provide reminders. The pet will be your friend, audio diary and remind you to take your pills.
Next, the team is improving the prototype with plans to market launch in 2020.
Rebola hopes that future designs will be customizable, so users could model them after their favorite pet.
So you can make a robot copy of your dead best friend that will watch you as the slow crush of time swallows your life. And hopefully they won't eat your eyes when you die.
Microscopic Robot Drops Bombs on Cancer Cells
Researchers from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College and City University of Hong Kong have created a biohybrid floating-plane robot.
The robots were inspired by Transformers toys and whales. The robot can shape shift it's elastic body and is propelled by a light-controlled cellular engine. The idea is that this roughly 10 mm robot could one-day perform highly-targeted drug delivery.
The body is the shape of an airplane and was 3D-printed using polysiloxane material, which is the same stuff they use to make dental putty. Then the team coated it with heart muscle cells and a light-sensitive hydrogel.
The robot is driven by a tail fin that mimics whale propulsion but the soft robot is remote controlled by a skin-penetrating near-infrared light. In the absence of light, the wings deploy, allowing the heart cells to propel it forward. When exposed to light, the floating plane retracts its wings, causing it to stop.
The transformable device dramatically improves the usefulness of robots designed to work inside the human body, it will literally swim up the human bloodstream.
So what does that mean for drug delivery? As Zi Chen, an assistant professor of engineering at Thayer said, "We literally dropped drug bombs on cancer cells.”
Because the floating-plane robot is maneuverable, it can carry medicine directly to cancer cells.
Next, the researchers are working to use light to move the wings separately so that it can become more precise.
While they were inspired by Hasbro’s classic toy line, I think Chen said it best, “The result is no toy, it may literally change people's lives."
Robot Designed to Forever Mop Up Blood
Chinese artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu have found an interesting new application for an industrial robot: squeegeeing blood.
Yuan and Yu combined a Kuka robot, Cognex visual-recognition sensors and software to create "Can’t Help Myself", an examination of our increasingly automated global reality.
The robot uses sensors to detect when the blood flows too far and then uses the end effector to shovel it back into place -- they literally call it a shovel.
It's a bloodbath in that box as it leaves stains on the floor and spatter on the walls. According to the artists, the blood is actually cellulose ether, a rather complicated product made with wood or cotton fiber, combined with colored water.
The art installation was originally commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum, but you can now check it out at the Venice Art Biennale 2019 in Italy. Titled 'May You Live in Interesting Times', the exhibit runs through November 24, 2019 and while you’re there you can also check out the fake indoor beach (sun & sea). Fake beach, real people, indoors.
The pair is known for blending technology with are to create visceral installations and works meant to provoke startling and contemplative emotions. Like the “Angel" sculpture of a dead angel outfitted with large roasted chicken wings; and Old Persons Home, in which 13 life-sized sculptures modeled after aged world leaders ride 13 dynamoelectric wheelchairs and continue to slam into one-another.