Don’t Bite the Hand that Feeds You: Soft Robots for Eldercare

Project Abstract/Statement of Work:

In order to create a means for robots to enter the home and begin caring for the elderly, we envision a small robot modeled after a household pet. Like a pet, such a robot could offer companionship and fetch slippers, but also expand these roles to include bringing medicines, assisting in self-feeding, and even operating appliances. A small robot could also support health monitoring, telemedicine, and communication with family and caretakers. Such a robot should be inherently soft to pose minimal risk to its user and be widely accepted. In this project, we strive to develop the underlying technology and the necessary mathematical methods to design and control such a versatile soft robotic system. In particular, we seek to bridge the established world of rigid robots with the world of soft robots by reasoning about constraints, compliances, and energy flows in an analogous manner, thereby introducing the soft equivalents of Jacobians, operational spaces, and spatial impedances. We will implement and test these methods in a multi-dimensional manipulator.

Team (PI):

Brent Gillespie