July 24, 2024

LAWRENCE — It’s short. It’s ugly. It talks funny. It’s a robot. And it soon could be your bosom buddy. In association with the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, Kansas University and researcher James Juola is programming a two-foot-tall French-made robot named Nao to be a caregiver for the elderly. Because so much of the world’s population is aging, there’s a need for a high-tech solution to caring for seniors. “Demographics are really what spurred this project,” Juola said. “In Western nations and parts of Asia, the aging population is increasing enormously. We have a much larger percentage of the population aged 65 or older — and about half the population over 85 is showing signs of dementia. At the same time, the proportion of people available to provide the needed services and economic resources to support the elderly population is declining.” Juola said the robot will be walk, talk and care for an elderly patient. It’s being programmed to track, recognize and follow its human charge and to be on-hand— to remind the person of things they need to do, like take their medicine or have a drink of water — and also as an immediate link to medical personnel or family members in case the user needs assistance. The robot would be able to recognize unusual circumstances and summon help, he said. The robot will tested in hospitals in about year and could be in homes in five.
Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2 p.m.

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