The world’s first bimanual dressing robot system mimics how caregivers assist humans in dressing. (Image: University of York)


A robot that can “mimic” the two-handed movements of care-workers as they dress an individual.


Until now, assistive dressing robots, designed to help an elderly person or a person with a disability get dressed, have been created in the laboratory as a one-armed machine, but research has shown that this can be uncomfortable for the person in care or impractical. To tackle this problem, Jihong Zhu, a robotics researcher at the University of York’s Institute for Safe Autonomy, is developing a two-armed assistive dressing scheme inspired by caregivers who have demonstrated that specific actions are required to reduce discomfort and distress to the individual in their care. Zhu gathered important information on how caregivers moved during a dressing exercise, allowing a robot to observe and learn from human movements and then, through AI, generate a model that mimics how human helpers do their task. The team was also able to build algorithms that made the robotic arm flexible enough in its movements for it to perform the pulling and lifting actions, but also be prevented from making an action by the gentle touch of a human hand, without the robot resisting.


University of York, United Kingdom


This technology could be significant in the social care system to allow care workers to spend less time on practical tasks and more time on the health and mental well-being of individuals.


Trust is a significant part of this process, according to Zhu, and the next step in this research is testing the robot’s safety limitations and whether it will be accepted by those who need it most.

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