By >Daimaou - G.G-B
Riken Japan upgrade its RIBA II Healthcare robot
Riken Japan announced yesterday a noticeable upgrade of its healthcare robot RIBA II with improved power and with more accurate sensors.
Stronger the RIBA II is no capable to lift patient with a weight up to 80kg (roughly a 20kg improvement) as well as now being capable to lift-up people lay down on the floor and not only on their bed. RIBA II also comes with upgrade sensors capable to better evaluate one’s weight and carry this person more comfortably.
Video Courtesy of Moriyama
Photos provided by RIKEN-TRI Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research
With an elderly population in need of nursing care projected to reach a staggering 5.69 million by 2015, Japan faces an urgent need for new approaches to assist care-giving personnel. One of the most strenuous tasks for such personnel, carried out an average of 40 times every day, is that of lifting a patient from a futon at floor level into a wheelchair. Robots are well-suited to this task, yet none have yet been deployed in care-giving facilities.
In 2009, the RIKEN-TRI Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research (RTC), a joint project established in 2007 and located at the Nagoya Science Park in central Japan, unveiled a robot called RIBA (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance) designed to assist in this task. The first robot capable of lifting a patient from a bed to a wheelchair and back, RIBA charted a new course in the development of care-giving robots, yet functional limitations prevented its direct commercialization.
RTC’s new robot, named RIBA-II, overcomes these limitations with added power and functionality. New joints in the robot’s base and lower back enable RIBA-II to crouch down and lift a patient off a futon at floor level (Figure 1), the most physically strenuous task for care-givers and one that RIBA was not able to do. RIBA-II accomplishes this task using newly-developed Smart Rubber sensors (Table 1, Figure 2, 3), the first capacitance-type tactile sensors made entirely of rubber. Printed in sheets and fitted onto the robot’s arms and chest, the sensors enable high-precision tactile guidance and allow RIBA-II to quickly detect a person’s weight from touch alone, guaranteeing patient safety.
In the future, RTC researchers will work together with partner nursing care facilities to test RIBA-II and further tailor it to the needs of care-givers and their patients, while also developing new applications in areas such as rehabilitation. TRI aims to bring care-giving robots like RIBA-II to the market in the near future, promising support for aging populations in countries around the world.