Our Assistive (Social) Care Robotics

Developing new assistive technology and social Care robotics

We are passionate about Assistive and Social Care Robotics and I am currently developing ACR (Assistive Care Robotics) and have a working ACR prototype ALTAIR. Our ALTAIR robot is sensor rich and can help users with their daily health routines, automatically monitoring aspects of their current health condition. ALTAIRS’s thermal imager with body/face (non-contact) thermal scan (multi-pixel thermal imager) can accurately read a users body temperature up to 2 meters away. It can also measure heart rate (BPM) and SpO2 level (High-Sensitivity Pulse Oximeter) and breathing. A special external interface allows the robot to measure the users blood pressure. With this data ALTAIR can notify family members, carers or emergency services if an emergency situation is detected.

Robot specification

Vision Systems Head
  • Advanced Face Recognition
  • Object recognition
  • Six levels of emotion detection
  • Gender estimation
  • Age estimation
  • Hand gestureEye tracking
  • Multi-Colour vision indicator LED

Sensors Head
  • Right/Left Side PIR motion detectors
  • Right/Left sound localization
  • Long Range IR distance sensor
  • Ambient light level sensor

  • Body
  • 2 X 5 DOF arms using AMi Smart Servos
  • 20 X slave microcontrollers
  • Emergency shutdown push
  • Right/Left speaker
  • Right/Left claw grip force sensors
  • Right/Left claw object detectors
  • Main LCD display
  • Menu select push

  • Locomotion Base
  • 20000mAH Battery
  • Battery charge level sensor
  • 2 X High torque drive motors
  • Right/Left high-res encoders for PID locomotion
  • 360 degree Electromagnetic sensor
  • Multiple ultrasonic distance sensors
  • Cliff/fall detector

What is assistive care robotics?

Demographic reports indicate that the population of older adults is growing significantly over the world and in particular in developed nations. As we all know, there is a huge gap in health care in this Country and around the World - we currently do not have the money/resources to supply adequately humane care for many of our disabled/elderly citizens. With the Global Robotics Sector set to be worth $150Billion by 2025 investments in robotics will mean ever faster developments of advanced robotics and Ai (Source Tech Republic).

Over the last decade, we have seen great developments in advanced robotics (and Ai) that continues to improve year after year. We are fast approaching a time where robotic social carers will be common place.

Social care sector local authorities fund 87% of care and local authorities budgets are being cut year after year, the system is at breaking point! Government policy is to keep people at home as much as possible and Assistive Robotics can help make this possible.This article addresses what is possible now and in the near future with ACR (Assistive Care Robotics).

Our ALTAIR Robot is expected to retail under £10,000, so this is the starting point for this evaluation.

What we can do at this time with a <£10,000 robot

  • Tasks like fetching food/drinks and medication.
  • Feeding – a robot can be a mobile and versatile feeding station.
  • Medication monitoring and delivery.
  • 24/7 Companionship – ACR is available night and day.
  • Empathy reactions – via ALTAIR's empathy engine, part of HRI (human-robot interaction).
  • Telecare – remote care of elderly/disabled people, providing care and reassurance to allow them to remain living in their own homes.
  • Telecare alarm – used in any situation where the user needs assistance.
  • Telepresence – internet remote-controlled robot that provides video/audio capabilities to external carers.
  • Sense and regulate user’s environment – i.e. heating, lighting etc to keep user in a safe comfortable condition and help reduce fall hazards.
  • An ACR can also help users stay socially connected – A body mounted screen can facilitate a Skype, FaceTime call etc, helping some of the challenges users face using telephones mobile phones etc.
  • 24/7 assistive care availability (with care professional monitoring).
  • 24/7 User health monitoring and security.
  • Control computers, tablets, smartphones, television, DVD players, music players and Smart Homes etc.

  • For younger users

  • Entertainment, game playing.
  • Book reading
  • Education
  • What we cannot do at this time with a <£10,000 robot

  • Give 100% unmonitored care - this is some way off.
  • Physically moving users - this requires highly powerful servos, also there could be litigation issues should there be a malfunction accident that will make this difficult.
  • User washing
  • User dressing/undressing
  • Preparing and cooking food
  • Who would benefit from assistive robotics?

    Socially Assistive Robotics aims to endow robots with the ability to help people through individual non-contact assistance (with the exception of feeding) in convalescence, rehabilitation, training, and education. ACR would help the following people:


    Assistive Robotics (also known as Disability Robotics) can in many cases greatly add to the users quality of life. When caregivers aren’t available to help someone with limited mobility 24 hours a day, technology can step in. Our work on Assistive Robotics is to enable people with disabilities maintain a sense of independence while accomplishing everyday tasks they no longer can do on their own.


    Assistive Robots will be a great complement to Elderly care even with today's level of robotics. Robots must be acceptable to older people, we need to design and develop robot hardware/software that can be easily deployed and used in practice, and how to place robots in a care system that really helps and empowers older people and also care staff. Robots offer basic care, companionship, entertainment and Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS).


    Personalised robots could one day act as a “social bridge” between a child on the autistic spectrum and a more neurotypical child.

    Technology enabled care services (TECS)

    Technologies such as telehealth, telecare, telemedicine, telecoaching are all possible via a personal companion robot such as the ALTAIR range.

    This technology has the potential to transform the way people engage in and control their own healthcare, empowering them to manage it in a way that is right for them and has the potential to save the NHS considerable amounts of money, together with better care outcomes.

    Other ALTAIR robotic applications

    Robotics in Hydroponic Farming

    We are also interested in all robotic applications that can benefit humanity. One of these (important) applications is Robotic indoor Hydroponic Farming (HF). HF has many advantages over traditional farming, it uses less water, it’s completely sterile and it is very space efficient - HF also gives the ability to grow food throughout the year, without being affected by weather variations.

    One big problem though is that HF requires more labour (over 50%) than traditional farming. A game changer here could be using robotics, which could well form a farm tech revolution.

    The (basic) ALTAIR robot is already well equipped for hydroponic farming as it has "object recognition" to recognise fruit and leaves etc - also its "colour recognition" helps with detection and ripeness etc. This together with being mobile and having arms with 5DOF (degrees of freedom) means that the robot can do a number of repetitive indoor farming tasks. Another big advantage is that the robot can work 24/7 with no time off or breaks etc.