A group of 25 European researchers met at the University of Orebro, Sweden, to design robots that can help the elderly and their families to live more independent lives.
Called Robot-Era, the project is funded by the European Commission for $11 million and scheduled to operate until December 2015. The project, coordinated by the Italian “Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna”, includes a mix of universities, research centers, private companies and public bodies from four EU countries: Italy, the UK, Germany and Sweden.
Integrating robots and smart environments
The objective of the Robot-Era project is to integrate robots and smart environments, to produce new technological solutions that improve the quality of life of elderly people, as well as of the people (family, care givers) around them.
Robot-Era researchers intend to use three types of robots: A domestic robot will provide day-to- day assistance in the home; an outdoor robot will help the elderly in the street or in the shops, e.g., by carrying goods or providing orientation; and a condominium robot will facilitate tasks like transporting heavy groceries from the street to the home or bringing down the garbage. The different robots will cooperate with each other and within a smart environment, so that together they can manage complex tasks. This distributed solution is expected to be the key to make the whole system affordable and acceptable to the citizen. Robot-Era is a world-leading project in the area of technology for elderly people.
In Sweden, the Robot-Era project is carried out at the AASS Cognitive Robotic Systems laboratory of the University of Orebro, under the leadership of Prof. Alessandro Saffiotti. The robotic solutions developed in the Robot-Era project will be extensively tested in angen, a senior residential building in orebro managed by LansgArden AB, which is a partner in the project. Extensive tests will also be performed in the small town of Peccioli, in the heart of Tuscany. Usability, acceptability, sustainability, and meeting the real needs of the elderly are top priorities for Robot-Era.