The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering of Carleton University has launched its 2016-2017 campaign to help fund the Intelligent Telepresence and Assistive Devices (iTAD) fourth year project. We will be raising funds to help with purchasing equipment in order to develop iTAD 1.0, the first prototype of this multi-year project.
The goal of this multi-year project is to develop a robot to assist nurses, patients, doctors, and family members in various medical situations. These situations can arise in a variety of different environments, requiring an equally diverse set of equipment. As such, the iTAD project needs help to cover the costs of some of this equipment in order to help as many people as possible.
There are many times when a doctor is separated from their patient. At such times, the doctor needs to be able to effectively diagnose and communicate with his/her patient. With the development of advanced robotics, a solution is now available: the intelligent Telepresence and Assistive Device. A telepresence robot is a mobile device that is equipped with various sensors and communication tools which allows the robot to be highly interactive. This will allow the system to be able to complete various tasks that involve social interactions or .
The iTAD project is an interdisciplinary project combining the talents of several different departments. It consists of a group of 22 fourth-year engineering students from the mechanical and aerospace department, 1 fourth-year electrical engineering student, 5 systems and computer engineering students, and 15 third-year industrial design students. The project is led by Professor Mojtaba Ahmadi, and lead engineers prof. Rong Liu and prof. Xin Wang form MAE Department, prof. Chantal Trudel from the School of Industrial Design, prof. James Green and Adrian Chan from Systems and Computer Engineering and prof. Jason Millar from Philosophy Department.
This year is the first of the three-year project. In the first year, we will be looking at designing the system to meet the needs of a hospital environment. In the second year, this will be expanded to healthy and independent living.
The goals for this year are to develop iTAD version 1.0 as well as a simulation of the entire robot. The iTAD 1.0 will be used as our first integrated platform that enables the validation of any modules or future extensions as well as human factor studies in collaboration with healthcare organizations. iTAD 1.0 includes a robot that is equipped with a camera, interactive screen, speakers, microphones, and an arm. In order for this to be accomplished, research will need to be conducted in order to analyze the needs of health care professionals as well as patients. This research will help create a basic design, which will allow the robot to be communicative, physically capable, semi-autonomous, attentive, networkable, and most importantly, safe. To implement the design, the students will develop and test major system modules including its mobility, interactivity, and structural systems. These systems will have to be validated independently and as part of the integrated system. The overall system will then need to be tested in a variety of different environments, ranging from hospitals, recovery wards, and in residential environments.
Through Future Funder we hope to raise $5000, in order to obtain quality components and materials to enable a more realistic version suitable for real healthcare environment. These funds will also grant us access to high-end manufacturing shops located outside of Carleton University to improve quality and shorten development time. The money earned will give students the ability to design and build a prototype that will better meet the needs of a hospital environment.
For our purposes, the iTAD will be designed for a hospital environment, allowing doctors or other health care professionals to visit or interact with patients from a remote location. This technology will allow remote specialist to advise local clinicians. Physicians can also perform their patient visits and monitor their health while being away from the facilities. Not only will this robotic system help health care professionals, it can assist patients as well by guiding them around the hospital, grabbing objects that they cannot reach, or providing company and comfort.
Variations of such assistive robotic technologies are currently being investigated in some medical facilities around the world and a few Canadian Centers. An example is the use of a telepresence robot in hard to reach remote locations where doctors may not be available, initiated by Dr. Mendez of the College of Medicine, University of Saskatoon. In this application, a telepresence robotic device helps individuals who live in small communities that lack access to proper health care. Hopefully, one day, telepresence robotics will be able to help other people in the same situation.