Robot Caregiver Helps ALS Patients With Everyday Tasks

The robot is currently in the prototype stage and is hoped to one day “usher in a new generation of assistive robots”

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

May 3, 2024

2 Min Read
Engineers demonstrate the robot's ability to pick up a cup
I.V. Ramakrishnan and Nilanjan Chakraborty demonstrating one of the CART designsJohn Griffin/Stony Brook University

A team of researchers from Stony Brook University in New York is developing a new caregiving robot to help patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and their caregivers do everyday tasks, such as changing clothes or eating food.

To create the caregiving robot assistant (CART), the team is using computer and AI technologies, mechanical engineering and information gained from consultation with medical experts.

According to project lead I.V. Ramakrishnan, the team is developing CART into a “usable prototype” for ALS patients.

The robot uses AI to understand and mimic actions performed by caregivers, such as picking up a spoon and angling it toward the patient's mouth. It will prompt the caregiver for additional demonstrations if it requires more learning.

“The technical innovation of CART is in [its]...approach to what we call ‘self-evaluation,’ where the robot evaluates its competence in performing a task and actually prompts a caregiver to provide additional demonstrations,” said Ramakrishnan.

Given the often rapidly changing requirements of ALS patients, the robot is also designed with adaptability in mind, capable of adding additional tasks to its catalog as and when it is needed.

The prototype is being developed alongside ALS patient Anuraag Mullick and his wife, Vibha Mullick, a senior web analyst at Stony Brook and Anuraag’s primary caregiver. The couple will provide feedback to inform CART’s programming.

Related:AI-Enabled Exoskeleton Could Help Patients Walk

“We are hoping that providing insight into just how effective CART can be for my husband as a patient and me as a caregiver helps to ensure this new technology bridges the gap between technological innovation and the lived experience of ALS caregiving,” said Vibha Mullick.

Depending on the success of the prototype study, additional ALS patients will be recruited to further perfect the design. 

The team also said the system could be used by any patient with motor issues, not just those suffering from ALS, to eventually “usher in a new generation of assistive robots” providing “reliable, round-the-clock physical assistance…and mak[ing] caregiving much less burdensome.”

The project is supported by a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Army. 

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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