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Robot Helps Quadriplegic Scratch an Itch

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the scratch-all-humans dept.

Robotics 27

An anonymous reader writes "Georgia Tech's Healthcare Robotics Lab and Willow Garage have been collaborating with Henry Evans, who became a mute quadriplegic after suffering a stroke 10 years ago, to use a PR2 robot as his surrogate. The robot is allowing him to do things like shave himself and scratch itches when he has them, things for which he's been dependent on other people. Henry uses a head tracker to directly move the robot's body, including its arms and head, or invoke autonomous actions, such as navigating in a room or fetching objects. The researchers hope personal robots will allow people with severe physical disabilities to live better and gain more independence."

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27 comments

You GOT A THIRD LEG, RIGHT !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36789448)

Adapt !! Use it to scatch what needs scratched !!

Mokey Shines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36789536)

Did he call the robot Ella?

Fantastic use of robotics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36789544)

As anyone who has witnessed severe disability first hand will know, this is truly amazing. Even these seemingly little things can make the world of difference. I applaud all the engineers and scientists involved as well as Henry Evans for not giving up.

Things like this make me smile :)

Re:Fantastic use of robotics (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 3 years ago | (#36790196)

So am I a right bastard for wondering how long it will be before a fleshlight attachment is developed?

watch the video (3, Insightful)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about 3 years ago | (#36789546)

you gotta watch the video. You've probably never seen a man so happy to put a razor to his face.

Re:watch the video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36789620)

They should invest more money into making the disabled walk / move again like what honda is doing. It seems that the latter route seems to be a less expensive solution.

Re:watch the video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36793446)

Yeah, I watched to video. It's not really that the robot is shaving for him, but putting the shaver next to his head. He does most of the work. Not particularly impressive.

Re:watch the video (1)

Demolition (713476) | about 3 years ago | (#36794756)

Yeah, I watched to video. It's not really that the robot is shaving for him, but putting the shaver next to his head. He does most of the work. Not particularly impressive.

First, the GP didn't say that the robot was shaving for him. He said that Henry looked happy.

Second, what's impressive about the video is that Henry is now able to do these tasks by himself (via robot proxy), rather than depending on his wife to do them. It may not be significant to you because you're probably completely abled, but being able to do even simple tasks is a very big deal for the severely disabled.

Just wait until you lose your independence. Then, you'll be craving such minor things as scratching an itch by yourself.

lemme be the first to say.. (1)

markass530 (870112) | about 3 years ago | (#36789568)

not only ya, but Hell fucking ya, stuff like this is one of the reasons i love technology

Re:lemme be the first to say.. (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 3 years ago | (#36789818)

I felt the same way when Leroy Petry, who just received the medal of honor, was showing off his artificial hand [msn.com] in an NBC Nightly News segment a night or two ago (couldn't find the video online). He said it learned to control its grasp in about 15 minutes because it uses the same nerves his hand did. And yes, it would be better if he didn't need it, it's not as good as the real thing, etc., but it sure is cool to see such futuristic technology make a difference in the real world!

Re:lemme be the first to say.. (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 3 years ago | (#36790222)

Unfortunately, it's too expensive, so he just had a loaner. He had to return it the following morning and get the usual hooks with rubber bands controlled by shifting your shoulder to grab things.

Re:lemme be the first to say.. (1)

markass530 (870112) | about 3 years ago | (#36794992)

What the fuck? And how did this get modded informative???

Re:lemme be the first to say.. (1)

markass530 (870112) | about 3 years ago | (#36795010)

yea I saw him on the Daily show, I can't believe he Deployed again after all that shit went down.

R2 unit (4, Funny)

mutherhacker (638199) | about 3 years ago | (#36789662)

Ever since PR2 came out, the standard R2 units just aren't in demand anymore.

Fapbot (1)

WhoBeDaPlaya (984958) | about 3 years ago | (#36789828)

First with obligatory fapbot comment. Fapbot 2.0 - now gets you off twice as fast!

Should have been (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | about 3 years ago | (#36789988)

The undertitle should have been "from the a-little-to-the-left dept."

Is it a Pusher Robot or a Shover Robot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36790152)

Just wondering...

A good first step. (4, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 3 years ago | (#36790588)

However useful helper bots may be, clearly you can see that the technology must eventually be -inside- the quadriplegics or otherwise severely injured individuals.

I mean, it's great to have a robot you can use to help take care of yourself, but wouldn't it be better to just be able to take care of yourself sans robot assistant?

I find it very interesting and just a bit ironic that in nearly all the science fiction works the cyborgs are less "human", whereas in reality cybernetics enable those with disabilities to be more human, and lead lives that are more normal.

Re:A good first step. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 years ago | (#36791922)

I find it very interesting and just a bit ironic that in nearly all the science fiction works the cyborgs are less "human", whereas in reality cybernetics enable those with disabilities to be more human, and lead lives that are more normal.

I find it very interesting that you seem to believe that people leading less normal lives are less human. I guess people really ARE prejudiced against the crippled... or anything not like them.

Re:A good first step. (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | about 3 years ago | (#36793258)

Congratulations for twisting a positive into a negative whilst implying prejudice that really doesn't seem to be there.

Re:A good first step. (1)

bgat (123664) | about 3 years ago | (#36793582)

I totally get (and agree with) your point about the subtle prejudice in his posting, but it isn't clear to me if that was his intent.

In SciFi, humans that have been augmented with electromechanical devices tend to lose some of their "humanity", at least as a plot element. Think Darth Vader here.

Real-life "cyborgs", if you want to call them that, aim to be indistinguishable from non-augmented human beings. Think Luke Skywalker here, at least from Episode V/Empire Strikes Back onwards.

Actually, modern "cyborg" research is at a point where we can exceed the abilities of ordinary human capabilities. The reason that athletes with artificial limbs cannot compete in certain Olympic sports, for example, is because it has been proven that such limbs can give them a significant performance advantage over non-augmented humans. So before long, SciFi might have it right after all...

Re:A good first step. (1)

bgat (123664) | about 3 years ago | (#36793508)

There are two distinct types of problems that need to be solved. The first is, how to design a robot that can understand what the patient is asking for--- and can do that. Solutions to those problems are currently external to the patient now because that's the easiest place to do the research.

The second problem is, how to figure out what the patient is asking the robot to do. Solutions to those problems are currently external to the patient now because that's the easiest place to do the research.

See a pattern developing in the above?

There are definitely researchers who are doing amazing things regarding implantable technology. But at the moment, we don't have anything that's sufficiently high in the reward category to offset the stuff in the risks category, at least for implants that serve in the problem space covered by TFA.

Put simply, we'd love to implant something--- but right now, we have nothing compelling to implant.

Actually, I'm not sure implantable is really the way to go for this, even in the long run. Consider what guys like Dr. Hugh Herr (Biomechatronics Research Group, MIT Media Lab) are doing with exoskeletons. His stuff in particular is evolving so rapidly, anything implantable would be obsolete before you could even get a surgeon's appointment to implant it. And his stuff works so well externally, it's hard to see an upside for implantation.

Re:A good first step. (1)

Techie_79 (2287884) | about 3 years ago | (#36800462)

I'm not sure, having a robot assistant has a certain stature associated with it. I'm still waiting for the robot overlords, though.

Not "Directly" moving it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36791058)

Henry uses a head tracker to directly move the robot's body, including its arms and head, or invoke autonomous actions, such as navigating in a room or fetching objects.

Yes, we're all familiar with 1970's -era technology for the disabled. We're familiar with the INDIRECT control method's poor poor reliability, lack of precision, and the humiliating methods of bodily contortion required to make even limited use of such mechanisms.

How about we stop fucking around with giving the "disabled" a fucking robot, and just take the goddamn robot legs and attach them to the guy so he's not fucking disabled any more?

Meh (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about 3 years ago | (#36791688)

ZZZzzzz... Wake me up when a quadriplegic helps a robot scratch an itch...zzzzzzzz

[SOLVED] Rage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36791810)

Problem Solved: http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2011/07/accessible-games/

Your Welcome.

Personally, ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 years ago | (#36793690)

... I welcome our itch-scratching [cnet.com] robot overlords.

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