The Shadow Robot Company, a robotics R&D company based in North London, has received a UK NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) Invention and Innovation award of over $100,000 to develop a robot that can perform a variety of tasks for disabled people.
Shadow want to produce a multi-functional robot that can be guided, trained and programmed to carry out a wide variety of useful tasks for disabled people. Technology they have already developed, called `air muscles’, has been used to obtain the full functionality of the human hand.
The device Shadow will develop will be able to move around and carry out tasks within the home out of view of the user, such as getting a glass of water in the middle of the night without the user having to get out of bed.
The device will incorporate a hand and arm on a moving base, with remote control and camera systems, so the user can initially guide the robot through simple tasks. Over time, open-source software developed on these systems will be used to perform more complex tasks automatically.
With NESTA’s investment, Shadow will be able to construct a first working prototype of the assistive device. The prototype will be demonstrated carrying out simple tasks for a user. Shadow will be actively seeking partners for the commercialisation of this system with the help of NESTA.