ATLANTA (March 19, 2008) — Robots are fluent in their native language of 1 and 0 absolutes but struggle to grasp the nuances and imprecise nature of human language. While scientists are making slow, incremental progress in their quest to create a robot that responds to speech, gestures and body language, a more straightforward method of communication may help robots find their way into homes sooner.
A team of researchers led by Charlie Kemp, director of the Center for Healthcare Robotics in the Health Systems Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, have found a way to instruct a robot to find and deliver an item it may have never seen before using a more direct manner of communication — a laser pointer.
El-E (pronounced like the name Ellie), a robot designed to help users with limited mobility with everyday tasks, autonomously moves to an item selected with a green laser pointer, picks up the item and then delivers it to the user, another person or a selected location such as a table. El-E, named for her ability to elevate her arm and for the arm's resemblance to an elephant trunk, can grasp and deliver several types of household items including towels, pill bottles and telephones from floors or tables.
To ensure that El-E will someday be ready to roll out of the lab and into the homes of patients who need assistance, the Georgia Tech and Emory research team includes Prof. Julie Jacko, an expert on human-computer interaction and assistive technologies, and Dr. Jonathan Glass, director of the Emory ALS Center at the Emory University School of Medicine. El-E's creators are gathering input from ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) patients and doctors to prepare El-E to assist patients with severe mobility challenges.
The research was presented at the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction in Amsterdam on March 14 and an associated workshop on "Robotic Help
|Contact: Megan McRainey|
Georgia Institute of Technology