Experiences with a Mobile Robotic Guide for the Elderly

Michael Montemerlo, Joelle Pineau, Nicholas Roy, Sebastian Thrun, and Vandi Verma, Carnegie Mellon University

This paper describes an implemented robot system, which relies heavily on probabilistic AI techniques for acting under uncertainty. The robot Pearl and its predecessor Flo have been developed by a multi-disciplinary team of researchers over the past three years. The goal of this research is to investigate the feasibility of assisting elderly people with cognitive and physical activity limitations through interactive robotic devices, thereby improving their quality of life. The robot’s task involves escorting people in an assisted living facility---a time-consuming task currently carried out by nurses. Its software architecture employs probabilistic techniques at virtually all levels of perception and decision making. During the course of experiments conducted in an assisted living facility, the robot successfully demonstrated that it could autonomously provide guidance for elderly residents. While previous experiments with fielded robot systems have provided evidence that probabilistic techniques work well in the context of navigation, we found the same to be true of human robot interaction with elderly people.

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