In the SMiLE project, concepts and assistance applications are being developed to provide people with disabilities and people in need of care with effective daily support. It researches the necessary technologies and brings them to a degree of maturity that enables demonstrations and testing in realistic environments (for example in hospitals and housing for the elderly and disabled). As part of the project, the wheel-based humanoid assistance robot Rollin' Justin and the EDAN wheelchair assistant are used.
"The vision of SMiLE is to help people with limited mobility to achieve more fulfilling and independent lives."
The hope associated with this vision for people in need of care is to overcome disability to a large extent and lead more independent lives despite illness-related limited mobility (especially in the case of multiple sclerosis and similar degenerative diseases, after stroke, amputation, paraplegia, etc.). Another major target group of the project is the increasing number of elderly, single people who want to live independent lives for a longer time in their own homes. Many of them do not want or simply cannot afford to employ full-time helpers or nurses. The costs of nursing care services reimbursed by long-term care insurance are limited to only a few hours per day depending on the level of care. But family members are generally not able to provide transportation and delivery services around the clock, especially since they often live far away.
With the technologies of safe human-robot cooperation and interaction, real-time 3D image processing for environmental and personal recognition, speech recognition and mobile manipulation, for the first time robotics is able to close an ever-increasing gap. It cannot and should not replace human care and existing care services, but instead make a decisive additional contribution to improving the quality of life of the affected people and to facilitate comfortable communication with relatives and helpers. The underlying objective of the development of these assistance systems is to enable and maintain the independence and self-determination of persons with mobility restrictions for as long as possible. The robot should help to overcome the owners’ limitations, to enable easier social interaction with relatives and generally to provide a sense of security through constant availability of help.
Within the scope of the project, two central scenarios are being developed and demonstrated. The EDAN wheelchair assistant will enable people with severely limited mobility to perform essential daily tasks through electromyographic control and partial autonomy. Rollin' Justin, a two-armed, mobile home assistance robot, will be used to support elderly people with moderate mobility restrictions to enable a self-determined life in their own home. In both cases, users can access the support of relatives who control the robots using conventional communication devices (smartphone, tablet). Furthermore, they can make use of professional assistance via tele-operation from a care control center, connected via effective force feedback devices.
Professor Alin Albu-Schäffer, head of the Robotics and Mechatronics institute demonstrates the wheelchair assistant EDAN to the Bavarian minister of economy, media, energy, and technology, Ilse Aigner.
DLR (CC-BY 3.0).