SBIR Phase I: Agile Humanoid Healthcare Robot with Puck-Based Power Regeneration

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 0945429
Agency Tracking Number: 0945429
Amount: $150,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2009
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: IC
Solicitation Number: NSF 09-541
Small Business Information
DUNS: 620793612
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 William Townsend
 (617) 252-9000
Business Contact
 William Townsend
Title: DEng
Phone: (617) 252-9000
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project proposes a robotic solution to ease the growing shortage of nurses and related healthcare workers. The envisioned robot will have a small-footprint, 2-wheel balancing base; a pair of dexterous manipulator arms with hands; a prismatic-joint extendable spine allowing the arms to reach down to the floor or up to a cupboard; and sensors for low-level balancing and high-level navigation. The main innovation is the use of power regeneration in the passively-backdrivable joints and the wheels to maximize battery run times, which is a deficiency in competitive concepts. This project will enhance the scientific understanding of how to harvest regeneration power flows in the context of a high-number-degree-of-freedom robot. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will help ease a coming healthcare crisis while protecting dignity for the rapidly growing population of the elderly and infirmed. Continuing improvements in life-prolonging medical science show every indication of accelerating and will balloon the percentage of elderly in the general population. Even with the present recession, there is already a labor shortage of both nurses and physicians, and the shortage is projected to grow worse over the foreseeable future. While this problem is only beginning to stress the system, it is important to develop the necessary technology now, before the problem becomes overwhelming.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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