Japan’s Riken Brain Science Institute and rubber manufacturer Sumitomo Riko have built an experimental robot bear nurse that is able to lift patients and gently transfer them between beds and wheelchairs. Ageing populations are an increasing concern and in Japan, hospital staff and carers in nursing homes are required to lift patients about 40 times a day, which is strenuous and can cause lower-back pain.
Images courtesy of RIKEN
To aid carers, the Riken-SRK Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research in Nagoya has developed a care support robot with the face of a cute, loveable cartoon-like bear to aid patients in sitting and standing up. Robear has mechanical arms that are able to carry up to 175 lbs. (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 maneuvering through tight spaces like doorways. has a number of features that enable it to exert force in a new, gentle way. The caring movements provided ensure that the machine can perform power-intensive tasks, such as lifting patients, without endangering them.
The robot weighs 300 lbs. (140kg), and 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 tactile sensors. Riken says that, so far, robots have never been used for this purpose in any hospital. The researchers have been working to develop a robot to assist with patient care since 2009. Robear improves on its predecessors by being lighter and having the smallest base yet.