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Beyond Science Fiction: Robots Coming to a Home Near You


Robot developers are leveraging advanced industrial technology to create autonomous assistants for the elderly and people with physical limitations, aiming to enhance independent living. These innovations were showcased at the latest IMTS, featuring industrial robots like FANUC's massive arm and welding robots.

Labrador Systems Retriever

Labrador Systems has developed the Retriever, a mobile robot designed to assist those with limited mobility by retrieving items like food and medication from pre-loaded trays. Utilizing 3D virtual positioning algorithms, the Retriever navigates home environments to designated "bus stops," such as the refrigerator or a chair. It runs on a low-cost computer using consumer electronics components, keeping it affordable.

Hello Robot’s Stretch

Hello Robot's Stretch mobile manipulator offers advanced manipulation abilities, allowing users to control it via various interfaces for tasks like fetching a drink or unloading laundry. Featuring a gripper, telescopic arm, multiple cameras and sensors, Stretch is equipped with autonomous capabilities for navigation and mapping. The device is expected to be commercially available in two years.

Technology + Humanity

The development of these robots involves interdisciplinary collaboration, including engineers and occupational therapists. For example, Anna Garverick and Vy Nguyen worked with quadriplegic Henry Evans to refine the Stretch, enabling him to perform daily activities independently.

Future Prospects

As assistive robot technology advances, it could also benefit the manufacturing sector by reducing physical strain on workers and enabling those with disabilities to participate more fully. The potential for these innovations will be further explored at IMTS 2024, which promises to unveil even more groundbreaking robotics and automation technologies.

Catalyst Communication

Industrial Machine Trader is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.