Robotic nurse assistant to help with routine tasks – Science Nation

Robotic nurse assistant to help with routine tasks – Science Nation


[music] Miles O’Brien:
Meet ARNA, the Adaptive Robotic
Nurse Assistant. These student nurses are getting
some hands-on training. Dan Popa:
The premise of the project is that nurses need help
to take care of patients. Miles O’Brien:
With support from the National Science Foundation, roboticist Dan Popa
and a team of engineers and nurses
at the University of Louisville are developing a new
generation of assistive robots designed to help nurses care
for patients in a hospital. Dan Popa:
So, this is a nurse assistant, not a nurse replacement. So, to introduce a robot
would essentially improve both quality of care and also help nurses complete
their tasks more efficiently. Miles O’Brien:
By necessity, nurses have to be
master multi-taskers. The idea is to put the robot
to work assisting with some of the more
routine nursing tasks, like fetching items
or helping prevent falls. Cindi Logsdon:
Robots will never replace the critical thinking and the analysis that
a professional nurse does, but the robot
could do some tasks and help with some activities that would free up
the nurses’ time. Miles O’Brien:
This robot is a “proof of concept” design undergoing an initial
round of testing at a simulation lab
in the School of Nursing. Weighing in at 500 pounds,
it can push a hospital bed, but a patient using it for
support can also move it easily, and it can adapt
to a person’s gait. Mohammad Nasser Saadatzi:
So, as soon as somebody holds onto this – and tries to push it forward,
backward, or lateral the sensor reads
these efforts from the user, and by following
those commands, it tries to move
in the desired direction. Miles O’Brien:
Using other robots back in the lab, they’re testing improvements
to the hardware and software that they’ll
eventually incorporate into future versions of ARNA.
To start with, it needs to be able to learn
how to get itself around. In a hospital,
objects and people are constantly on the move. Dan Popa:
For safety reasons, it’s important that this robot
continuously map the environment and figure out how to get
from one place to another. [rolling] Miles O’Brien:
They also want to optimize the functionality
of the robot arm. They want nurses to be able
to teach a robot what do by physically demonstrating
how it should move. Dan Popa:
Just telling the robot, “When you help a patient
get out of bed, I need you to be
in this position and hold your hands
like this,” and the person will actually use
their strength to stand up, so you can teach them
by demonstration. The issue is if objects
move around in space, the robot should be able
to adapt the motion to account for that. [spinning] Miles O’Brien:
A nursing robot will need to be highly maneuverable,
so they’re looking to build in so-called
“Omni-Directional Design,” the ability to move
in any direction equally well. It hard to imagine ARNA
skittering around like this, but the robot nurse
assistants of the future will be smaller
and more agile than this one. Dan Popa:
That’s important to get around tight spaces,
especially in hospitals. If you have a traditional
steering mechanism where you have to drive
back and forth to be able
to move sideways, that’s not going
to work very well. Miles O’Brien:
And then there is deciding how nurses and patients could best interface
with the assistant. They’re working on a pressure-
sensitive “electronic skin,” which would cover
the entire body of the robot and respond to touch. Dan Popa:
You can squeeze a little part of the robot and it will know that you’re
there and you want something. [robot speaking] Miles O’Brien:
What if the robot looked like a person,
and could talk to you? This is Phil – modeled on
science fiction author Philip K. Dick. Popa’s team works with the
“Phil” robot on other projects, and they gave some thought
to making ARNA look human. For now, they decided that is
probably more of a turn-off than an advantage. Dan Popa:
There have been, actually, discussions about whether we can
take the head of Phil and just plop it onto a
naturally looking mobile robot. You know, that would
look very bizarre, a lot more bizarre than now. Miles O’Brien:
The team will use data gleaned from the student nurse
training sessions to design
follow-on iterations of ARNA. In time, functionality
will improve, and costs will go down.
It’s a win for hospitals, which are on the lookout
to save funds and reduce patient falls,
and it’s a win for nurses too. Cindi Logsdon:
It gives the nurse more time to be a scientist and also to be
the caring professional that they want to be if some of the tasks
are taken off their hands. Miles O’Brien:
Looking to the future designing robot nurse assistants
to lend a hand at the hospital. For Science Nation,
I’m Miles O’Brien.

2 thoughts on “Robotic nurse assistant to help with routine tasks – Science Nation

  1. Tech is good. Now to have enough staff to get things done well. Also health care given to all equally in an affordable way , and staff working also paid well enough.

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