Talking robotic wheelchair takes elderly customers shopping



On March 30, researchers at ATR demonstrated the latest developments in the Ubiquitous Network Robot project, this time featuring a robotic wheelchair in a shopping mall.
The concept behind the service is that elderly people with disabilities tend not to leave home by themselves because they and their families are concerned about possible accidents. The system presented in this demonstration helps allay these fears and ensure safety using the Ubiquitous Network Robot (UNR) Platform, a networked robot system which connects robots with environmental sensor networks, remote operators, planning and processing servers, and mobile devices. The system successfully enabled the customer to move freely throughout the shopping mall by herself, giving a new level of independence to someone who typically would be dependent on a caretaker to accompany her if she even went out at all. Technologically, the demonstration presented new applications of networked robot systems, demonstrating seamless integration between sensor networks, autonomous planning, manual teleoperation, and shared autonomy to ensure safety and ease-of-use of the robotic wheelchair.

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