Dressing robot mimics movements of care workers

Researchers at the University of York have created a two-armed robot that can help dress a patient in care.

The new robot was trained to mimic human movements with the help of artificial intelligence after observing and learning from caregivers as they dressed an individual.

The system was proposed by robotics researcher Dr. Jihong Zhu and developed by a team at the University of York’s Institute for Safe Autonomy.

“We adopted a method called learning from demonstration, which means that you don’t need an expert to program a robot, a human just needs to demonstrate the motion that is required of the robot, and the robot learns that action,” Dr. Zhu said.

“It was clear that for care workers, two arms were needed to properly attend to the needs of individuals with different abilities.”

According to researchers, the two-handed dressing robot is more comfortable to use for the patient than existing one-handed machines.

“With the current one-armed machine scheme, a patient is required to do too much work in order for a robot to assist them, moving their arm up in the air or bending it in ways that they might not be able to do,” Dr. Zhu said.

A more effective dressing robot also means caregivers will be able to focus more of their attention on other tasks.

“We know that practical tasks, such as getting dressed, can be done by a robot, freeing up a care worker to concentrate more on providing companionship and observing the general well-being of the individual in their care,” Dr. Zhu said.

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