Robotic pet dragon overhauls independent living for the elderly

18th June 2024
Sheryl Miles

Aberystwyth University's BeachLab event will feature the public debut of a new robotic pet dragon designed to assist older adults in maintaining independence.

This event, held at Aberystwyth Bandstand on 15th June 2024, will showcase various innovative robots, highlighting the university's cutting-edge research in robotics.

The robotic dragon, adorned in bright red with green eyes and a flashing tail, resides in the university's Smart Home Lab. This facility, a recently completed bungalow on the Penglais campus, focuses on studying how robots can enhance independent living for older people.

The dragon, one of many companion and assistant robots, can move its eyes and ears and light up its tail. It monitors an older person's movement, providing data for care planning and encouraging interaction and mobility. This not only aids in daily physical activities but also helps combat loneliness for those living alone.

BeachLab attendees will have the chance to see a range of robots, including a smart wheelchair, communication drones for natural disasters, low-cost robots monitoring the Welsh coastline, and a trick-performing robotic dog. Additionally, current and former members of the university's robotics club and undergraduate society will present their creations, such as a crevice-climbing robot by Rowen King from Sheffield University.

Beyond the dragon, BeachLab marks the start of a week-long celebration of robotics, including the Robot Olympics and a discussion on technology for independent living by Dr Patricia Shaw.

Dr Shaw, the event coordinator, emphasised the significance of showcasing university research and its potential benefits: “We’re delighted to be hosting BeachLab once more at the Bandstand which has proven to be such a popular event over the years. Robots are becoming an increasingly important part of our day to day lives and so it is great to be able to demonstrate some of the research taking place at the University, and the potential benefits this work could bring.”

Visitors to BeachLab can also suggest names for the robotic dragon, adding a touch of personal engagement to this innovative display.

As robots become more integrated into daily life, Aberystwyth University's efforts highlight the transformative potential of technology in improving the quality of life for the elderly and those with health conditions.

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