Seniors with reduced mobility or cognitive abilities will someday be able to navigate assisted living facilities or public places by using a “smart” robotic walker.
Led by scientists at the University of Trento in Italy with support from a consortium of European countries, the DALi (Devices for Assisted Living) project has resulted in the development of a robotic walker that collects information about the environment around it to help the user find the best and safest route to get from point A to point B.
Equipped with wireless sensors, cameras, obstacle recognition systems and software components that use algorithms, the walker also can anticipate the movement of other people close by to help avoid collisions or stressful situations.
“The system, for instance, will try to avoid obstacles that may be present in the environment, or people who may be walking and did not notice the presence of the walker and its user,” said Alessio Colombo, a computer scientist at the University of Trento, in a press release.
Luigi Palopoli, a computer engineer at the university, added: ‘We don’t need to think of this robotic walker as a substitute for caregivers. It is just something complementary. We can, for instance, think that these walkers could work in a retirement home. That same carer could follow and take care of dozens of users of this technology.”