Future robots may help residents avoid falls, avoid danger

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A robot that could help residents who have fallen, and send an alert when there's unusual behavior, is currently being developed in Europe, according to The Telegraph.

Researchers at universities in Britain, Sweden, Austria and Germany are hoping to program robots to analyze their environment for suspicious items or dangerous situations. The project, known as STRAND, consists of developing a robot that could be on 24-hour surveillance throughout a long-term care facility.

The European investigators want to see their robots working alongside security staff and nurses to better recognize security breaches and fallen residents. For instance, if a robot sees furniture astray or notices a resident getting out of bed in the middle of the night, it could alert security.

"In the care home, we want the robot to detect when people have fallen over, but also do things like passing messages and assisting around the place," Nick Hawes, Ph.D., coordinator of the project from the University of Birmingham, said in The Telegraph. "…If someone tries to leave with her shopping bag at 3 a.m., the robot should be able to say, 'this isn't what should be going on', and raise an alarm."

The robots have a conical body with blinking eyes to make residents more comfortable. The eyes point where the robot looks.

The researchers expect the robots to be integrated into nursing homes within 10 years, The Telegraph reported.

In a separate project, European Union researchers are working on a MOBISERV robot companion for seniors in their homes. This robot is designed for a senior living at home and asks questions such as, “Are you feeling hungry?" It is expected to be available in under three years.