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Bristol researchers and Bath company secure £2 million grant to create robots to help look after us in old age

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Written by: Gavin Thompson | Posted 07 December 2015 16:59

Bristol researchers and Bath company secure £2 million grant to create robots to help look after us in old age

A consortium of researchers, care providers and experts have been given £2 million to find ways robots can revolutionise the way we look after older people.

The aim is to help people live independently for longer.

The Chiron project is developing a system of modular robotic components, which can be adapted to different tasks around the home, from domestic chores to helping you wash and dress.

The project will create a prototype that will lead to the development of a commercially viable product.

The consortium is led by Bath-based Designability, which specialises in technology that helps people’s lives, working with Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) and London-based Shadow Robot Company, experts in conducting pioneering research and development in robotics.

Other firms involved include ocial enterprise care provider, Three Sisters Care, and Smart Homes & Buildings Association.

The organisations will use the funding from Innovate UK to draw their expertise together.

Sanja Dogramadzi, associate professor in robotics at Bristol Robotics Laboratory, said, “Our vision is a Chiron in every home. Chiron doesn’t have one body, but many. A set of intelligent modular robotic systems, located in multiple positions around your home; Chiron could help you with personal hygiene tasks in the morning, help you get ready for the day and even support you in preparing your favourite meal in the kitchen.

“User-centred design is at the heart of the project. Through our research we will focus on the tasks that people tell us are the most burdensome and inhibit independent living, then design the system to help with these.”

Praminda Caleb-Solly, associate professor in independent living systems, said: “Our approach is to combine modular functional units that work in a distributed manner, adapting to support user needs in context.

“It is also important that Chiron products look good and feel good. Aesthetic and beautiful designs that suit a range of preferences will be developed in collaboration with user experience and product designers.

“As the system develops it will be installed and trialled in the BRL’s Anchor Robotics Assisted Living Studio which will ensure that it is tested for safety and usability in a realistic environment.”

Designability director Professor Nigel Harris added: “We are tremendously pleased to contribute to this work, focusing on the long term care revolution.

“This project is all about technological innovation and perfectly complements other work that looks at social innovation.”

Picture: Stock photo, not Chiron design

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