Computer scientists at the University of Lincoln are part of a major international robotics project – ENRICHME – which aims to help elderly people stay independent and active for longer.
The team at Lincoln is part of a large European consortium developing humanoid service robots that could be deployed in care homes and ‘extra-care’ housing’. The project will eventually see service robots integrated with ‘smart home’ technology - residences which incorporate advanced automation systems to provide inhabitants with sophisticated monitoring and control functions - in order to provide round-the-clock feedback to elderly users, carers and health professionals.
The pioneering robotics project funded by an EU Horizon 2020 grant aims to test the ability of robots to support our ageing populations and their carers. The robots will be designed to help with tasks such as locating lost objects, facilitating video calls with family and friends, issuing medication reminders, and encouraging activities to improve quality of life such as physical exercises and mental puzzles. This will enable people with mild cognitive impairments to live more independently.
ENRICHME will also enable caregivers and professional staff to identify evolving trends of cognitive impairments and to detect possible emergencies. This includes monitoring sudden changes in mood which might indicate deterioration, or the need for family or health services to step in.
Dr Nicola Bellotto
The system we are developing builds on recent advances in mobile service robotics and ambient assisted living to help people improve health and wellbeing. It will be of particular benefit to those people who have mild cognitive impairments, for example older people who are still physically healthy but may have early symptoms of dementia. The robots have received an extremely positive reception from the elderly residents we have been working with, and we are so pleased that they are keen to be involved at each stage of the project.
The University of Lincoln is working with LACE Housing Association in Lincolnshire to develop the robots so that they can work effectively within local 'housing with extra care' schemes and to gather feedback from care providers and elderly residents.
Robotic prototypes are currently being programmed by artificial intelligence and robotics experts from the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science and will soon be deployed for testing in the homes of elderly people in Lincolnshire. Information gathered here will form part of a large-scale evaluation, with robots also moving into care homes in Greece and to elderly people’s own homes in Poland.
Meet the Expert
Dr Nicola Bellotto,
School of Computer Science
Dr Nicola Bellotto is a Reader in Computer Science who specialises in mobile robotics, computer vision, and artificial intelligence.