Staying young with robots (JuBot) – Versatile assistance robotics for coping with everyday life

Project description

JuBot organization chart
Source: KIT – H2T

Assistance robotics is seen internationally as the key to solving the challenges associated with an ageing society. The use of robots and robotic technologies to maintain and secure quality of life, to assist in the self-determined coping with everyday life, or to support caregivers has a long tradition in Japan. In recent years, this has also been viewed increasingly positively in Germany and the rest of Europe. The current calls for projects in Germany, such as those of the Carl Zeiss Foundation and the BMBF on competence centers for assistance robotics, provide an example of this. They show the importance of the topic, especially with regard to demographic developments such as the ageing society and the resulting increase in the need for care.

Within the JuBot project, work at KIT on assistive learning humanoid robotics and wearable robots (exoskeletons) will be consistently continued and expanded in order to bring the ARMAR robots at KIT to the next level of maturity and to test them in real human-centered environments. The robots will act as personalized assistants for elderly people in managing their daily lives, in a home environment to maintain and improve their quality of life. The assistance will take two forms:

  1. Humanoid assistive robots equipped with versatile sensorimotor and cognitive capabilities that perform household tasks (under one’s own roof).
  2. Wearable robots in the form of exoskeletons that provide physical support to increase mobility, enable personalized training, or reinforce motor skills.

The project aims to develop robotic systems with personalized assistance functions to support the elderly in coping with everyday life. To this end, research questions across different disciplines will be addressed to advance scientific progress in the field of intelligent assistance robotics and to promote innovation in the care of an ageing population. This challenge will be addressed in inter- and transdisciplinary research in the following research fields:

  1. Mechano-informatics of assistive robot technologies,
  2. personalized and context-sensitive assistance,
  3. motor and cognitive training, and
  4. future life with assistive robots.

ITAS is involved in two subprojects in research field D. In the subproject “Integration and validation in the real world”, the assistance functions of the developed robot system and their adaptation to real needs will be evaluated not only in a laboratory environment at KIT, but also in a real retirement home of the Heimstiftung Karlsruhe. In particular, this is intended to obtain feedback from senior citizens regarding the efficiency of the assistance, intuitiveness of the interaction, and acceptance. In the process, seniors are invited to contribute their experiences, wishes, and suggestions for improvement to the further development of the JuBot robots. This feedback is crucial for the research and development of machines that can be adapted to actual needs and that people thus accept and actually want to use. The validation of the robotic systems will be carried out in annual cycles defined by set milestones.

In addition, the use of robotic assistants in residential buildings requires the consideration of numerous planning parameters and demands during their planning or remodeling. For example, these can be specifications on distance areas for the navigation of the robot or on the location of the building equipment and technical equipment to be operated by robots or elderly people. Therefore, ITAS is involved in the second subproject in the development of concepts for the optimized structural living environment in close feedback with robotics and complementary digital services to support the activities of (elderly) people in a high-quality spatial context.

Contact

Dr. Maria João Maia
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe
Germany

Tel.: +49 721 608-22249
E-mail