Social robotics at the Amiba Foundation
Amiba Foundation is a non-profit organisation that was founded in 1995, with the goal of creating an entity capable of providing care to people in a situation of social vulnerability. Through the joint project, CUPONS that took place at Amiba, PAL Robotics aimed to adapt the social robot ARI to fit the needs of users and increase user engagement. Projects like this have benefits that are twofold: supporting users including caregivers in daily tasks through use of new technologies, and to further develop robots such as ARI, including testing new technologies, to be used more frequently in environments like hospitals, care centers and homes.
CUPONS is a project sponsored by Catalan organisation ACCIO (part of La Generalitat), which aims to accelerate the technological transformation of Catalan companies. Partners in this project include PAL Robotics, Amiba, and the Ajuntament of Badalona.
Introduction to the Amiba Foundation and background to the project
Amiba Foundation is a non-profit organisation that was created in Badalona, near Barcelona, with the goal of building an entity capable of addressing and solving the specific challenges of people with physical, mental, and sensory disabilities and taking care of older people, providing care to people in need. The Foundation carries out vocational training courses, and includes a day centre for older people, as well as rehabilitation.
In this case Amiba was interested in the possibility of introducing robotic, collaborative platforms with interaction and social capabilities, so that they could provide personalised and healthy support for people living in the centre.
For the project to succeed, a humanoid platform with autonomous navigation that could integrate intelligent digital solutions, collect and analyse data, as well as capture environmental and lifestyle information, identify needs, and provide results that could be customised was needed. The platform had to be deployed in similar environments, such as hospitals, residential centres, and even to provide care to patients’ homes. For example, assisting in mobility and rehabilitation exercises, participating in social activities including cognitive rehabilitation, and being able to help with specific tasks in activities of daily living, such as asking questions and reminding users to take the medication.
ARI the social robot for use cases including healthcare
The robot taking part in this project is ARI, the social robot by PAL Robotics. ARI is our latest humanoid platform specifically designed for Human Robot Interaction and front-desk activities. ARI is expressive, easily integrable, and able to provide dynamic information to users. ARI is equipped with multiple sensors and provides robotic assistance in areas including assisted living, healthcare, events, and customer facing within companies.
User feedback to develop ARI pilots at Amiba
PAL Robotics has been testing new technology at Amiba through project CUPONS. Understanding the users’ needs when designing and improving robotic software solutions requires a user-centric design approach. That’s why in the first visit to the clinic, a semi-structured interview was conducted, caregivers were asked what they like about ARI and what they think social robots such as ARI are useful for.
Following this, an observation study was carried out and we identified greeting users, announcing daily activities, and encouraging and following physical therapy as the main activities for the Amiba centre. Based on this, a second version of the demo was developed focusing on these activities. This second version integrated a set of physical exercises that allowed adding custom new motions.
After carrying out the pilot the following conclusions were drawn:
- In terms of the welcome scenario, it was observed that from the first to the second day older adults appeared to acknowledge the robot more.
- For Announcements, music helped to attract more attention and, finally, for physical therapy games the robot was considered to be part of the therapy group and there were positive comments among the older adults.
ARI’s activities in the pilots at Amiba
Following the observation study the following activities were identified as ARI’s tasks:
- Greet users in main room: between 9 and 10am. Options included using people or face detection or QR codes to start welcoming people
- Announcements of different activities: caregivers to manually move the robot to the center of the room, so that, for example, when lunchtime or physical therapy session time comes, the robot announces it
- Encourage and follow physical therapy activities in the group to keep them motivated.
A set of physical exercises were developed using the ARI’s Web GUI Motion Builder, that allows creating custom new motions, including morning exercise, head exercises, and full body exercises (combining arms and head). For leg exercises the robot simply gives speech encouragement.
The overall aim of projects such as CUPONS at Amiba, is to enhance users quality of life through tailored social robotics solutions.
PAL Robotics’ social robot ARI in assisted living projects
ARI is currently collaborating in a number of collaborative projects, including the EU-funded projects: SHAPES and SPRING. Both projects are in the field of assisting living and healthcare for older people.
SHAPES: The SHAPES project aims to introduce social robotics to assist older people in residential centres and private residences, and to help users with reduced physical and mental abilities. Here, ARI has been developed throughout the project, to help older people in their daily lives, through exercises, reminders, and involving them in social activities.
SPRING: This multi-partner EU-funded project seeks to develop social assistance robots that can engage in multi-person interactions in hospitals. ARI will carry out actions such as welcoming visitors to the waiting room, providing information to patients, and guiding visits. In this project, ARI also offers the option to call friends, family, and caregivers.
If you have any additional doubt our collaborative robot ARI, take a look at our answers to your questions about ARI.
We are very grateful for having the opportunity to be part of the CUPONS project and to work with Amiba. We are always on the look for new collaborations, to find out more about collaborative projects or request information, visit PAL Robotics’ collaborative projects webpage and don’t hesitate to get in touch.