Intelligent telepresence Assistive Device

The rundown

In 2016, the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace engineering launched the iTAD project. iTAD (Intelligent Telepresence Assistive Device) is a fourth year Capstone project for engineering undergraduates and is in its second year of development. The 2017-2018 project students will be raising funds to purchase equipment to develop iTAD 2.0, building off of last years work.

The goal of the project is to develop a telepresence robot capable of moving around various environments, interacting with its surroundings using an arm, and remotely connecting patients and medical staff using an on-robot display. iTAD 1.0 developed the framework to meet these demands and created a prototype. iTAD 2.0 will redesign certain aspects of the robot, improve functionality and add more features to create an functional, safe and stylish design capable of maneuvering around a hospital or office-type environment. With 24 students learning about robotics working on the robot, many different types of materials are required to supplement their learning and introduce them to the design process utilized in industry. The funds raised here will help with manufacturing, materials and equipment costs.

Background

Medical doctors lead very busy lives meaning they cannot always be present among all their patients. Therefore, a convenient method of interacting with their patients is by utilizing an intelligent telepresence assistive device. Many remote areas such as Northern Canadian towns do not have access to doctors.This is a very pressing issue because proper healthcare is a right to all citizens. Nursing stations are usually placed in such areas due to the lack of medical doctors. Intelligent telepresence devices can be used in such environments allowing doctors to tend to patients from the comfort of their homes or offices. Therefore, by integrating devices such as iTAD into such locations, the problem becomes less pressing.

Telepresence robots are mobile devices that can effectively interact with their environments in various ways. iTAD in particular will contain a tablet which allows for live video feed communication, a camera with facial recognition, path finding lidar sensors, proximity sensors which allow for surrounding depth perception, and an arm with a gripper which allows for physical interactions. This combination of interactive tools allows a doctor to be efficient and effective in their work.

In future years, iTAD will be integrated into different environments. Independent living facilities can make beneficial use of iTAD. For example, many retirement homes have a lot more patients than nurses. iTAD can be of great use in this case helping elderly folk in many ways such as medication administration, and meal delivery.

Rollout

iTAD is a multidisciplinary project, and requires both electrical and mechanical equipment. We are looking to raise 5000 CAD. The funds raised through Future Funder will help cover manufacturing and machining costs, allowing student designs to be manufactured and used to create the robot. The funds will help cover the cost of manufacturing the robot’s frame consisting of mainly machined aluminum. The funds will also cover forming the robots shell, which will be made from an easily cleaned formed plastic. It will also cover the cost of electronic equipment such as batteries, wires, and motors. The robot will also have a display and requires microcontrollers to control the robot’s functions, such as arm and drivetrain movement. Hospital equipment is held to a very high standard and is expected to be especially safe, so materials and equipment purchased must be high quality and from trusted suppliers.

Impact

iTAD 2.0 will be designed for a hospital or doctor’s office environment. The device can connect doctors remotely while still allowing the doctors to provide a satisfactory level of care to the patient. The robot could be controlled from the doctor’s home or office, and the robot itself will be on site. Accessibility is a large problem in hospitals, with long wait times in large hospital buildings. iTAD lets a doctor be in two places at once and significantly reduces the distance a patient has with their doctor at anytime.

iTAD is meant to have alternate designs for different purposes, and will ultimately have both a rescue and at home version. iTAD home will be designed as a retirement device allowing a doctor or nurse to check on patients at home, assist in daily tasks and allowing a nurse to provide care remotely. This benefits both the nurse and the patients increasing accessibility immeasurably. Rescue iTAD will be used in emergency situations and can be deployed in disaster areas to allow rescue personnel to control the robot’s movements to clear debris and move people. Home, hospital and rescue iTAD versions will have slightly different designs but will maintain largely the same internal components with only a change in shell material and drivetrain solution.

iTAD is a 4th year project for Carleton engineering students. iTAD will be the first exposure to robotics for many of these students and the funds raised through future funder will ensure that the materials these students learn with provide a fulfilling experience in robotics.

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