Devices for Assisted Living.
Shopping centres, airports, museums and hospitals are the kind of complex and confusing environments where elderly people on the verge of cognitive decline could have difficulties walking around without help. The walking frames they may currently use do not have the flexibility to help them navigate in often-crowded places.
This led researchers on the Devices for Assisted Living (DaLi) project to develop a robotic cognitive walker (c-Walker) that can be taken to, or picked up at, the place to be visited, gently guiding the person around the building safely. The device takes corrective actions when the user comes across the type of busy area, obstacle or incident they want to avoid.
“The c-Walker is aimed at providing physical and cognitive support to older adults. It can give them confidence in public environments”, explained Luigi Palopoli, professor at Italy’s Trento University who coordinated DaLi. “The device is full of hi-tech solutions, but the user is not necessarily aware of them. She or he comes into contact with a ‘standard’ walker, with a few additions such as the display or bracelets and does not need any kind of computer literacy. The robot simply guides them so that they have a nice, safe experience.”