Huggable Robotic Bear Companion From MIT

Huggable, the robotic companion for therapeutic applications, is the result of an MIT project that seeks to take advantage of our love for animals. Research indcates that animal companionship benefits people; they can lower our stress, reduce heart rate and respiratory rate, elevate mood and facilitate greater socialization with other people.


(Huggable Robotic Bear Companion for Therapeutic Applications)

However, there are many situations where animals are not welcome, due to allergies, risk of disease or institutional requirements (in hospitals and nursing homes).

The MIT team has created a huggable robotic bear that can interact with patients and provide quantitative information to care givers.

The Huggable robotic therapeutic companion makes use of a variety of cutting-edge technologies:

  • The full-body sensate skin consists of three different types of sensors - electric field, temperature and force - that cover the entire surface of the robot. (The sensor-skin lies under a silicone skin and plush fur fabric for greater comfort.) This is may be an improvement over earlier efforts to give robots pressure-sensitive skin or electroluminescent thin film sensors.
  • An inertial measurement unit, cameras embedded in the eyes and microphones in the ears.
  • Voice coil actuators with position sensing give the Huggable silent, compliant and backlash-free movement in the neck, shoulders and face.
  • An embedded PC with wireless communication capabilities implements the robots behaviors and provides care givers with effective patient monitoring and efficient data collection.
Researchers are determined to meld these technologies into a coherent whole that serves patient needs:

"One important and novel capability we are developing for the Huggable is its ability to participate in active relational and affective touch-based interactions with a person. Social-relational touch interactions play a particularly important role for companion animals in their ability to provide health benefits to people. Touch can convey a wide variety of communicative intents --- an animal can be tickled, petted, scratched, patted, rubbed, hugged, held in ones arms or lap just to name a few. To be effective, therapeudic robotic companions must also be able to understand and appropriately respond to how a person touches it ."

Science fiction fans have been looking forward to these developments for generations. In his 1969 story Super-Toys Last All Summer Long (the basis for Steven Spielberg's A.I.), writer Brian Aldiss imagines Teddy, a perfect robotic companion for a young boy. And a mother.

"Stand there, Teddy. I want to talk to you." She set him down on a tabletop, and he stood as she requested, arms set forward and open in the eternal gesture of embrace.

"Teddy, did David tell you to tell me he had gone into the garden?"

The circuits of the bear's brain were too simple for artifice. "Yes, Mummy."
(Read more about Brian Aldiss' Teddy bear robot


(Teddy the robotic companion from A.I.)

An earlier (and somewhat more sinister) vision of robotic teddy bears is provided in Always Do What Teddy Says, a 1965 short story by Harry Harrison. Also, physicians have been using robot stand-ins for rounding; read InTouch Companion: Medical Rounding Robot. Read more about MIT's Huggable Robotic Companion.

Update 02-Aug-06: Excellent reference from a reader - see Purza the Pukha from Anne McCaffrey's The Rowan.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/2/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 11 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.' - Stanislaw Lem, 1954

SpotMini Robot Dog, Autonomous And On Sale In 2019
Great, an autonomous slamhound.

RoboFly Is Laser-Powered, Adorable
Don't swat this fly!

Healthy Fast Food Courtesy Of Robot Chefs
'The electric cook was stirring empty nothing in a pan, with a zeal worthy a dozen eggs.' - Elizabeth Bellamy, 1899.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Swarm Of Mindless Robots Works Together
'Very tiny pseudo insects that... can unite to form a superordinate system.'

SpotMini Robot Dog, Autonomous And On Sale In 2019
Great, an autonomous slamhound. It is cute, though.

RoboFly Is Laser-Powered, Adorable
Don't swat this fly!

MSG Sphere Las Vegas, ala Star Wars
'The smoky globe, hung in the vault, was shot with colored light...'

Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...

MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!

UberAIR Asks For Skytaxi Landing Prototypes
You know you want to ride in one.

Boring Tunnel Almost Ready
Your underground future is calling!

Handheld Human Skin Printer
It outputs a thin wad of uniflesh.

Healthy Fast Food Courtesy Of Robot Chefs
'The electric cook was stirring empty nothing in a pan, with a zeal worthy a dozen eggs.'

Mass Production Of In Vitro Meat From One Sample
They're Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing

Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.

Retinal Prosthesis Uses Organic Printing Inks
We can rebuild you - well, your eyes, maybe.

Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.

Squid-Like Robots Soon To Be 3D Printable
'It was a chemotactic artificial jellyfish designed to slither...'

Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.