September 2, 2009

Robot created to work in care facilities

Japanese scientists say they've built a robot designed to cope with the world's aging population by assisting staff and patients at care facilities.

Researchers at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Tokyo and Japan's Tokai Rubber Industries Ltd. named the robot Riba -- Robot for Interactive Body Assistance.

The scientists said Ribia makes use of the latest in sensor, control, information processing, mechanical and materials technology to become the first of its kind capable of safely lifting and moving a human patient of up to 134 pounds from a bed to a wheelchair and back.

Riken said the robot uses human-like arms equipped with high-precision tactile sensors and a body encased in a soft exterior of urethane foam in a design that guarantees patient safety and comfort.

As one part of a larger strategy to pursue advances in robot technology for care-giving support, the successful development of Riba marks a critical step toward tackling the problems of an aging society, Riken said in a statement. The Riken-TRI Collaborative Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research, where Riba was developed, envisions bringing robots like Riba to market in the near future.