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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

El-E Retrieving Robot Helps The Sick and Elderly

The El-E robot looks like something you'd see in a Hollywood sci-fi flick: It's got two lenses spaced together just like eyes and a slender 5 1/2 -foot-tall body. It spurts out crazy catch phrases when it accomplishes its goals.

But unlike Sci-Fi robot movie stars, the El-E isn't designed to act human. It simply gets things you point at with a laser.

"The entire world becomes a point-and-click interface. Objects become buttons. And if you point at one, the El-E robot comes to get it for you," said Charlie Kemp, the director of Georgia Tech's Center for Healthcare Robotics and the robot's designer. "

To command the El-E, the user points a laser at something for a few seconds. The robot responds with a beep and then zeros in on the target. Once there, it lifts a mechanical arm and grabs the object. It begins the return trip when the laser is pointed at the user's feet, and it looks for a human face before handing over what it picked up.

El-E works by using dozens of sensors, lasers and cameras that help it find its target item and judge the grip needed to retrieve it. A mechanized crane that can grab items from the floor or shelves is the mass of its slender body. It rolls around on three wheels, and it's all powered by a lone Mac mini, which sits in its base.

Researchers hope the laser-directed robot could someday open doors, switch light panels and guide patients, but it still has a way to go.

The robot's arm can only carry objects up to 1.2 pounds, and it has yet to be tested with sick patients. I know quite a few people can use this now such as a stroke victom thats only 26 years old and on his own.


doug said...

That's really cool, although it resembles Johnny 5 from short circuit.

Robert Di-Salvo said...

Yeah Doug its definitely not pretty but it works. I'm sure it will bring smiles to someone thats lost use of a arm or other limb!! Maybe even nick name it Johnny 5 LOL