The European Robotics League comes to the South West

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Assisted home care robots

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) will host the first European-Commission funded European Robotics League (ERL) contest for service robots to be held in the UK.

Two teams from the BRL and Birmingham will pitch their robots against each other in a series of events from 26 and 30 June.

Robots designed to support people with care-related tasks in the home will be given a series of simulated tests. The assisted living robots will face various challenges, including understanding natural speech and finding and retrieving objects for the user as well as greeting visitors at the door appropriately, such as welcoming a doctor on their visit or turning away unwanted visitors.

Associate Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly, Theme Leader for Assistive Robotics at the BRL said, “The lessons learned during the competition will contribute to how robots in the future help people, such as those with ageing-related impairments and those with other disabilities, live independently in their own homes for as long as possible. This is particularly significant with the growing shortage of carers available to provide support for an ageing population.”

The BRL, the host of the UK’s first ERL Service Robots contest, is a joint initiative of the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol. The many research areas include unmanned aerial vehicles, driverless cars, medical robotics and robotic sensing for touch and vision. BRL’s assisted living research group is developing interactive assistive robots as part of an ambient smart home ecosystem to support independent living.

The ERL contest will be held in the BRL’s Anchor Robotics Personalised Assisted Living Studio, which was set up to develop, test and evaluate assistive robotic and other technologies in a realistic home environment.

The studio was recently certified as a test bed by ERL Service Robots, which runs alongside similar competitions for industrial robots and for emergency robots, which includes machines that can search for and rescue people after earthquakes.

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