As the balance of older persons deteriorates, they are exposed to increased risk of potentially dangerous falls; a new robot can help by detecting and preventing them.
Developed by scientists from the University of Technology of Nanyan and staff from Tang Tok Seng Hospital, the prototype is known as Mobile Robotic Balance Associate or MRBA . It consists of a wheel base and is fed from a battery. The design is connected to a soft seat belt that is mounted on the user's thigh.
While the user moves around the house or other places, the MRBA follows him. Using a depth sensor camera and other sensors, it captures control movements that cause sudden loss of human balance. When this happens, it stops and keeps the owner from falling.
The robot also identifies intentional movements, such as sitting, standing and standing on the spot. In all cases, it helps the task. The robot will be useful in rehabilitative medicine by supporting users when they learn to walk again. For example, after stroke or temporary paralysis.
During a three-day MRBA test, engineers employed 29 volunteers who suffered strokes, cranial injuries and spinal cord injuries, and the device proved useful in their daily activities, and none of the participants were injured during the entire test period.
Now scientists are planning a new large-scale study, and it is hoped that technology will be commercialized over the next year.
There are three versions of the MRBA robot: one for people weighing up to 80 kg, one for people weighing up to 120 kg, and one for especially mobile users.