Research Projects

Leading a project to create care robotics that offer older people extra support at home

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A robotic arm handing a woman an object

A two year project that was funded by Innovate UK’s Long Term Care Revolution SBRI national challenge which aimed to revolutionise long term care in the UK through business-led innovation.

What was needed

The UK’s population is ageing at a rapid pace. The Office for Budget Responsibility recognises that by 2065, 26% of the population of England and Wales would be more than 65 years old, up from 18% today. With increasing numbers of older adults needing assistance in later life, there is a challenge for society as to how best provide and maintain high quality support, and ensure that people can stay integrated and valued members of their communities.

Designability was the project lead on a collaborative project, Care at Home using Intelligent Robotic Omni-functional Nodes (CHIRON). CHIRON would be used alongside a person’s existing support network and would grow with a person’s needs. It would enable people to stay independent for longer, supporting them to undertake their own personal care tasks, remain mentally engaged and generally extend their years of healthy and fulfilling life.

This project ended in March 2018 and Designability and the other project partners are seeking additional funding to progress the project.

Who could benefit

We envisage a CHIRON in every home. CHIRON will be built to grow with us, learn our needs and preferences while we are well, and adapt, expand and learn as our care needs emerge.

The assistive system would be aimed at people with good health, poor health or a known future need for healthcare support. The long-term aim is that people view CHIRON as a means of reducing their future need for care.

Our ultimate aim is to offer a new perspective on ageing, helping people realise their aspirations as they age.

Expected outcomes

  • People will be able to stay independent for longer through the provision of assistive robotics
  • It will help to promote greater choice and flexibility for care later in life
  • It will impact personal and social perception and understanding of robotics in care
  • We will move away from an “end of life” institutional model which is widely viewed as unfit for purpose.

Design and development

CHIRON doesn’t have one body, but many. A set of intelligent modular robotic systems, located in multiple positions around your home; CHIRON could help you with personal hygiene tasks in the morning, help you get ready for the day and even support you in preparing your favourite meal in the kitchen.

The CHIRON system harnesses current and emerging ability of robotic systems to handle materials and objects with high levels of accuracy, linked to sensory feedback and vision. CHIRON’s various components can be mixed and matched to enable the customer to undertake a wide range of domestic and self care tasks independently or enable a care worker to assist an increased number of customers.

What we found

The two year project has resulted in a prototype modular robotic system with the brand name of JUVA.

What was our role?

The CHIRON project was managed by a consortium led by Designability. Our key technology partners were Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Shadow Robot Company, who have considerable expertise in conducting pioneering research and development in robotics. Through their experience of working with end-users and health/social care providers, the consortium recognise that a modular, cost-effective robotic solution that offers adaptability to a person’s changing needs is vital for realising real-world deployments.

The CHIRON team aimed to integrate output delivered devices and systems software into a modular scalable system of products that can start small and be grown by the customer. Award winning social enterprise care provider, Three Sisters Care will bring user centred design to the very core of our project. Smart Homes & Buildings Association will work to introduce the range of devices that will create CHIRON and make it an indispensible presence in our homes.