By means of the Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation, the European Commision is trying to build leadership and enabling industrial technologies, with dedicated support for ICT for many different actions and topics.
A very interesting call was the PHC-19: Advancing active and healty ageing with ICT: service robotics with assisted living environments. Citizens in an ageing European population are at greater risk of cognitive impairment, frailty and social exclusion with considerable negative consequences for their independence, quality of life, that of those who care for them, and for the sustainability of health and care systems.
The challenge of the call was to develop new breakthroughs for active and assisted living based on advanced ICT solutions. The scope was on solutions focusing on service robotics in assisted living environments which can help an ageing population to remain active and independent for longer. The expected impact as a result of the funded applications should include the next:
- Evidence for the benefits of service robotics developed, based on proof of concept and involvement of relevant stakeholders.
- Reduction of admissions and days spent in care institutions, and prolongation of time spent living in own home when ageing with emerging functional impairments.
- Improvement in quality of life of older persons and of their carers.
- Global leadership in advanced solutions supporting active and healthy ageing.
Robotnik got two funded projects under this call: RADIO and I-SUPPORT
RADIO pursues a novel approach to user acceptance and unobtrusiveness, developing and integrating robotics and home automation technologies that accommodate users’ daily living needs, while assuming interaction with the users as an opportunity for clinical monitoring. In this manner, clinical monitoring sensors do not need to be masked but become an obvious, yet discrete and accepted, part of the user’s daily life. In pursuing this, the project’s initial technical objective is to develop methods for recognizing Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and mood which indicate early symptoms of cognitive impairment, frailty, and social exclusion. A further objective is to integrate these methods into the RADIO Home, a system based on existing reliable, safe, and low-cost robotics and home automation solutions. Finally, the hardware sensing and processing components of the RADIO Home will form a modular system that can be deployed in different configurations and mixes of components without requiring extensive effort or specialized knowledge for reconfiguration. RADIO also envisages to integrate multiple RADIO Home deployments, medical institutions, and informal care givers into an information management and sharing Ecosystem that is by design scalable and secure and privacy-preserving. In developing and evaluating these technologies, RADIO emphasises how well the RADIO-provided information can serve its clinical monitoring purpose, how it can be easily reconfigured for different environments and end-users satisfying their individual medical needs and sense of privacy and obtrusiveness, and, finally how usable it is and especially by elderly people.
The I-SUPPORT project envisions the development and integration of an innovative, modular, ICT-supported service robotics system that supports and enhances frail older adults’ motion and force abilities and assists them in successfully, safely and independently completing the entire sequence of bathing tasks, such as properly washing their back, their upper parts, their lower limbs, their buttocks and groin, and to effectively use the towel for drying purposes. Advanced modules of cognition, sensing, context awareness and actuation will be developed and seamlessly integrated into the service robotics system to enable the robotic bathing system to adapt to the frail senior citizens population’ abilities and enable frail senior users to interact with the robotic system in a master-slave mode, thus, performing bathing activities in an intuitive and safe way. Adaptation and integration of state-of-the-art, cost-effective, soft-robotic arms will provide the hardware constituents, which, together with advanced human-robot force/compliance control that will be developed within the proposed project, will form the basis for a safe physical human-robot interaction that complies with the most up-to-date safety standards.