Huhn will therefore enter basic research with his home in the course of the coming year. Over the next five to eight years, “Edan”, a wheelchair with a robot arm, and “Justin”, an already rather independent robot, will be used in conjunction with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen to investigate how the two machines developed for space travel can support human activities as assistance systems. The focus will be on the ideas and wishes of employees and senior citizens.
“We’re at the very beginning,” stresses Huhn. “And the care will always remain with the person,” he also says. But tablets or water could be brought by a robot, just as it could probably take over memory training or mobilization measures, and it could also be helpful with care documentation via voice control. The sector also expects a great deal from support in lifting and moving people.
Robots will only take on supporting functions
“There’s indeed a huge demand,” says Birgit Graf. Supplementing the functions of existing lifts with robotic assistance functions, in order to simplify the usage for the staff, however, is a big challenge. “Safety plays an important role in developing new solutions, after all, you operate with powerful motors directly on people,” she explains. In addition, such a device has to be economically justifiable. This depicts a requirement, which is not fulfilled due to many currently available research platforms which are designed as all-rounders. As in all other areas of application, however, the robots would in future also have only a supporting function here. “Only the caregiver can assess whether the person is in the right position or feels pain.”
Robots are already on their way for tasks such as those in conventional logistics or the automotive industry. In large hospitals, they transport laundry or food; even the concept of an intelligent care car could soon no longer be found only as a prototype. It automatically provides the nursing staff with the necessary utensils, documents their consumption and moves autonomously to the storage to get a refill. The robot was tested for several months in two nursing homes and a hospital – with a positive echo.