ARLINGTON – It takes a full minute for PR2 to pour you a glass of white wine, but this technology isn’t going towards bar tending.
Behind the aggressive features is a robot with a touch that’s so sensitive, you could almost call it caring.
“It means that finally, after more than 30 years of research, robots are to the point where the are safe enough to be around people, [and] robust enough to complete some tasks of interest that will be useful to the average person,” said Dan Popa, a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Popa received close to $1 million from the National Science Foundation to build a robotic nurse from the ground up.
“We are definitely not trying to replace human care, human interaction, or replace nurses,” he said. “We are simply trying to help nurses do their job better and be more effective.”
Over the next three years, their goal is to produce a robot that will adapt to the individual patient’s needs and could do everything from simply sitting and monitoring a patient, to helping a nurse lift a patient out of a hospital bed.
“It’s a very exciting time for robotics, because technology is about to break out from the labs and be deployed in your house, in your office, or in the hospital,” Popa said.
The goal is to create a fleet of workers designed to meet the demand of older patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by the year 2030, the number of Americans over 65 years old will double, accounting for roughly 20 percent of the population.
The professor hopes its gentle touch will soon be felt by patients in need.