Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a robot to assist the elderly living at home alone. The machine is capable of using a stethoscope, calling for an ambulance, and facilitating video calls with a doctor.
Grupen helped develop uBOT-5 in response to the growing crisis faced by the U.S. medical system as almost 78 million baby boomers begin joining the 65-and-older crowd during the next three decades.
He noted that it costs about $65,000 to build a single robot in the lab, but told LiveScience that manufacturers have said it might cost only a "couple of thousand" to mass-produce the automatons. A part-time, human in-home caregiver can cost more than $1,500 per week.
Aside from its life-saving abilities, uBOT-5 can also remind people to take their medication, pick up packages and do some cleaning and shopping. It can even administer virtual house calls from doctors using a Web cam, microphone, touch-sensitive LCD screen and Internet connection — tools that Grupen said clients should find other uses for.