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Most often families caring for the very elderly find themselves overburdened by the demands expected of them. A number of efforts have been undertaken by experts to help bring about considerable relief on both the seniors and the caring family members. This report find if it is possible to design a robotic machine capable enough of undertaking most of the duties and roles in an attempt to relieve and possibly slow down the age at which these elderly people go to the elderly community homes.
The Aim of this project is to find out how an intelligent robot can be designed in the structure of a home appliance that will be useful in helping the elderly people at home in different ways
The objectives of the report include the following:
The elderly lot consists of a group that is growing rapidly around the USA. It is believed that the group grows in the factor of 11 while their counterpart under the age of 65 barely triples (X Price, 2014). According to the census conducted in 2010 in the Canada, 4.3 million people (14%) of the total population 31.6 million people are over 65years of age (Ludwig and Silva, 2003).
Farther more, of the senior citizens of the country 73% are found between the age 65 and 79. As a result, there is an inadequate source of help to help care for the huge elderly population. Because of the never-ending illnesses or healthiness care related disabilities, these citizens have been finding it difficult enough to perform the basic self-care activities. Amongst the challenges felt by most of this elderly includes:
Placing into consideration the emerging need for an immediate intervention by the engineers in terms of a potential solution, a team of researchers was dispatched to the surrounding areas in the elderly homes to conduct a research study. A team of five researchers who were also to participate in the designing of the robots interviewed a group of 35 elderly people with the objective of ascertaining the daily routine jobs and some of the most critical tasks that the elderly have to undertake (Ludwig and Silva, 2003).
To enhance the effectiveness of the research the team had to interact with the caretakers as well including the family members supporting the elderly. The researchers ended up listing the following most performed activities.
Previous researchers have also done a number of researches pointing to the fact that amongst some of the most needs that this group has includes the need to have a companion of who can converse with intelligently (Ludwig and Silver, 2003). Most often, this group will tend to adopt the feelings of not being useful any longer as most people shun them away in a routine busy day.
The appliances as was discovered range from person to person depending on the disease suffered. For instance, those persons with pulmonary (lung) or congestive heart failures may develop inabilities in terms of stamina to manage household tasks like cleaning, dusting the house and cooking. However, by generalising, the following appliances were picked out.
This device was capable of helping them reach out to items within a far range in highly elevated places like top the shelves.
Consisted of appliances that can relieve the elderly with the burden of having to carry big shopping luggage while at the same time doubling up as a moving support aide.
These consist of the devices that can help one to easily prepare drinks especially where strenuous activity like mixing is involved. The blenders, for instance, involve a very tough mixing activity in preparing the fruit juices.
They help people to navigate around with heavy items from one room to another. An example was the moving of food from the kitchen to the living room placing into consideration that most a time this food would be considerably hot.
These devices come in handy in helping one to open sealed tins, tight jars and some of the packets that come in considerably hard covers.
They help people in finding the right temperatures at which the food is cooking and comes in handy in relation to the elderly who often would find it difficult or dangerous enough to try and taste the hot food.
It is evident enough that it will not only be strenuous in terms of time for a modest family to take care of the elderly but would also take a lot of finances to provide for the adequate equipment and appliances. Because of a number of health-related factors, it becomes also more imported that despite the availabilities of these appliances, there still arises the need to safeguard the very elderly people from potential dangers of hurting oneself in the course of using the appliances (Ludwig and Silva, 2003). As result, the need for a more safer, reliable, cheaper and multipurpose grows even stronger.
However, there is a new insight pointing to the fact that in as much a potential robotic machine might be introduced to help, this should be done early enough to delay the inevitable age at which no robot can offer adequate help and the elderly simply has to be taken to a community elderly home. The machine will be best effective if introduced way earlier in life of the elderly before age 81 as identified by Lammer, Huber, Weiss and Vincze (2010).
The design team having consisted of the previous researcher resorted to design a potential robotic helper that is not only capable of intervening to help with most of these duties but also can respond verbally and intelligently.
The prototype design is such that the base is equipped with multidirectional manoeuvre devices as well as ultrasonic range detectors that can detect any obstacles within a range of 3 metres and has similar capabilities as those of a SICK PLS laser based detector (Ludwig and Silva, 2003). These devices have the ability to utilize the one-degree angular resolution aspect in a planer field that may involve ranges of 108 degrees (Living Made Easy, 2014).
These features are aimed at ensuring that the manoeuvre of the users around the house and the compound is safe and robotically controlled so as to minimize errors that might result due to eyesight problems (Ludwig and Silva, 2003). The base of the robot is also fitted with a three-wheeled motor system that is controlled by an electronic system that is powered by a battery.
All controls for the manoeuvre of the robot’s base are consequently coloured in bright colours and mounted on the dashboard that is within easy reach of the user. So as to prevent bumpy movements, the base is also consequently fitted with appropriate spiral shock absorbers.
The robot assistant will also be fitted with a tele-presence interface that will facilitate for effective communication between the users and their caretakers. This will be facilitated by a software that will be able to record instructions and consequently link them to the timing module (Ludwig and Silva, 2003). This interface will be able to recite the recorded instructions and directions at the stipulated time thereby reminding the users to undertake some of the major activities.
Some of the major components of the interface include a camera and an on-board microphone as well as a small microchip and hard drive. Similarly, the interface is also fitted with a JPEG video feed that can be used to transmit and record images such as faces and objects that it does not recognize (X Price, 2014). However, one of the most significant features of the interface is a joystick that is consequently used to give commands to the robot’s navigation system.
Also, mounted within the robot’s tele-presence interface is the speech interface that is designed to facilitate for a close to natural interaction with the user. The interface is designed such that it can respond when addressed by a particular name and through the implanted audio recognition can also identify its users and refer to them by their name. The essence of this feature is due to the fact that elderly people are usually most responsive in familiar and friendly environments. Most of the activities of the speech recognition interface will be controlled by a dialogue manager that will assess instructions and select an appropriate response from the implanted response directory.
The navigation system of the robot is perhaps the most complex of all the component systems. Apart from manoeuvring around specific confinements, the robot assistant has also been fitted with arms that have been designed to assist in the lifting of light objects such as luggage for the users.
The arms are controlled by both electronic and hydraulic systems complete with a pressure cylinder mounted on the back of the robot. The navigation system of the arms is such that all movements are smooth and not abrupt hence the likely hood of causing injury is highly reduced (Ludwig and Silva, 2003). The significance of this navigation is such that the robot can assist the elderly to pick up things from high places and also help up elderly people that have tripped.
Another unique component of the robot is that it has an inbuilt sense-enhancing interface. This interface enables the robot to detect the temperature level of the environment within which the user is. Similarly, the interface also enables the robot to detect the presence of dust particles in the air. Upon detection, the recorded level is consequently reflected to the control chip that will direct the robot on the appropriate steps to be undertaken.
The materials used in the construction of the robot include steel and aluminium metal, plastic, rubber, wood, screw and bolts, cylinder pressure system, rubber tubes, camera, microphone, microchips, watch and interface boards. For the robot to be safe, long lasting and reliable, all the material must be of high quality and must be in good functioning shape.
The construction and moulding methods use in the construction of the robot were different depending in the part being mounted. Most of the components of the base, which mostly included motors, wheels, and braking systems, were mounted using screws and bolts. The rubber tubes supplying the pressure fluids were consequently mounted using metal clips to the various sub-cylinders to which they supplied the fluids.
The rubber was also consequently used to cover adjacent surfaces so as to reduce friction. Similarly, being one of the components with a lot of movable parts, the base was also moulded such that there were a sufficient number of openings to facilitate for easy lubrication (Ludwig and Silva, 2003).
Other parts that were to remain still were moulded together by wielding and consequently filed to remove all sharp and coarse surfaces.
All the purchased chips were consequently programmed using appropriate animation, java and digital soft ware and consequently mounted in to the respective interface boards.
Once ready, the robot was tested in an actual real life situation. Where the machine failed to pass the test it was sent back for check-up. Most a time this malfunctioning would be a software or hardware issue. However, eventually the best version was founded that had adequate stability in terms of physical response to the environment.
I would require about $250 to pay the workers who will have to have the required skills and knowledge about their field of study. For the raw materials, I might end up spending about $1500 to accumulate and purchase enough materials for the project.
I will also require some Aggregation that might total $300 to fund other activities of the project.
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