Welcome to the new age of nursing care: Robots?
Japanese research center Riken has developed a latest prototype lifting machine named Robear, a new care support robot bear nurse that can lift patients up gently to transfer them between wheelchairs and beds
Fitted with giant padded arms, Robear is the latest in a line of prototype nurse robots designed to take on some of the heavy manual work of caregivers and nurses who must lift patients an average of 40 times per day in Japan, which has a rapidly aging population.
Robear has mechanical arms that are able to carry up to 80kg of weight and also has roller legs that can extend and retract from a base as necessary when bending to lift a patient or when manoeuvring through tight spaces like doorways.
The robot weighs 140kg and it is powered by software and advanced actuators (a type of motor that controls mechanisms), as well as three different types of sensors, including Smart Rubber capacitance-type tactile sensors entirely of rubber.
All of these attributes enable the robot to move both slowly and smoothly with very gentle movements that do not jolt the patient in its arms. Riken says that, so far, robots have never been used for this purpose in any hospital.
The robot also has six-axis torque sensors, cameras, a microphone and 27 degrees of freedom, or axes of motion.
Research leader Toshiharu Mukai states, “The polar cub-like look is aimed at radiating an atmosphere of strength, geniality and cleanliness at the same time.”
“We voted for this design among options presented by our designer. We hope to commercialise the robot in the not too distant future.”