Invasion Of The Robot Snatchers Coming To A Nursing Home Near You

Guess what? We don't have to worry about growing old alone. We will have robots to take care of us... the kind that can become any person you authorize it to be, kind of like a medium to communicate with the living.

You know all the people that never want to visit you when you're old? They have no excuse now. They can just hit a few keys on their computers and hop into the body of the uBOT-5, clean out the cat box or make your bed while they chat with you about how great it is that you have a robot to take care of you. And you get to see your caller in the video monitor that substitutes for the head of the robot.

In case you're interested, the uBOT-5 is a project of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst laboratory of Perpetual Robotics, and the current prototypes cost $65,000 per unit. Co-inventor of uBOT-5, Rod Grupen, says his development team would like to get the price down to $5,000 plus a monthly fee... by that time, the uBOT-5 should be capable of testing your blood sugar and taking your pulse and blood pressure.

Like our old friend R2-D2, uBOT-5 has sensors designed to respond like the human body; it would be nice if it were as fun to have around as R2-D2.

At another lab, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is developing the robot as an autonomous wheelchair. I don't like the word 'autonomous' when used to describe the way a 'wheelchair' gets around. What if it decides to whiz me around in an uncontrollable spurt of energy and I have vertigo? Supposedly though, the robot wheelchair will respond to a verbal command, once it knows its way around.

At a Georgia Tech laboratory, a robot is being fashioned after a service dog, because of the cost ($16,000) of properly training a real dog to be a service dog. This robot will be capable of opening drawers, turning doorknobs and working light switches.

Robot Service DogRobot Service Dog

I see some job opportunities here; not for robots, but for people and real live dogs. There's been a nursing shortage for several years. How about the laid off stockbrokers and auto workers retraining for nursing or home healthcare jobs? Or what about dog training as a career? I'm sure it won't cost $16,000 to train a service dog if there are more trainers around. And think of all the dogs that can be rescued and put into service for us old people. Now that would be wonderful for Gramps and Grandma and the service dog in many ways.

This robot stuff has its place, I guess, but there's no substitute for a real life

Sources: Medline, Engadget, io9 Thanks for the tip Diana !

Keeping you posted...

Nov 20, 2008
by Beth Graddon-Hodgson
Beth Graddon-Hodgson's picture

 I do a lot of writing for

 I do a lot of writing for the senior care industry, and this is definitely a new and interesting one to me! I can see the robot and chair making some great contributions from a medical perspective and would provide a good alternative for relatives who cannot visit physically.


Beth Hodgson
Innovative Business Writer

Nov 20, 2008
by Anonymous

in a way

it is useful to have a mini robot who could do a lot of stuff for those with backpain.

Nov 21, 2008
by Anonymous


sure if it was a perfect world but to find people that are nice and/or wont try to take something etc is hard indeed at least in this country I live in. Then with people you also need to match personalities somewhat, it's hard to find people who are honest, kind, works hard and don't do anything wrong and don't steal and so infact sometimes a robot should be given. In fact I have seen those who help elderly and disabled for a fee sit around and talk on their "breaks". Yeah those who really need small robots who do chores cant afford them even the "cheaper" price is to expensive for me with backpain and I'm not elderly yet. I wouldn't hire those who "help" elderly and disabled around here even though the top are oblivious and think they are doing good. Like they sit to long and talk about private stuff on work hours and they sit and smoke cigarettes even though some of the people they are visiting probably cant handle smoke from clothes (a lot of the time smoke do get on clothes and do smell of smoke) then they don't do the job properly either.

Nov 21, 2008
by Anonymous


the goverment should give those for free. But yeah that wont happen

Nov 25, 2008
by Anonymous


forgot to say that such robots can be there to look to see if the help do it correctly if it's a help outside of the family that is paid.