ROBOHELPER robots promise relief for caregivers

Japan's super-aging society may be able to live a little longer at home thanks to a couple of new robotic devices introduced by the Muscle Actuator Motor Company. The company demonstrated a robot lifter and bodily waste removal system at the 39th Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition late last month. Designed to provide relief for stressed caregivers, the devices will be available to rent to private residences on a monthly basis.

First up is the ROBOHELPER SASUKE, which helps lift a person into and out of bed using servo motors. The device has two rods connected by a sling that slides under the body. The sling is made of a special material and can accommodate a weight of 264 lbs (120 kg). Furthermore the arms can rotate up to 60 degrees, which allows the patient to comfortably transfer from a prone position to a sitting position.

Lifting patients is the number one cause of injury to nurses, so it's only natural that other companies are currently developing robotic solutions. In Japan, Riken and Tokai Rubber are refining the RIBA robot, and Japan Logic Machine is marketing the Care Robot Yurina. An American company called Hstar Technologies is also working on a similar robot called the RoNA (Robotic Nursing Assistant).

The second device – ROBOHELPER LOVE – is an an automatic bodily waste disposal unit aimed at making bedpans a thing of the past. A cup wraps around the patient's waist, fitted with sensors that automatically detect the presence of fluid and/or stool. The waste is quickly suctioned away into a holding tank, followed by a cleansing wash using room temperature water. The cup itself can be washed and sterilized automatically at the station. It can operate for up to 12 hours without supervision, making it ideal for overnight use.

Both ROBOHELPER devices were designed with the help of Toshiyuki Kita, who is known for creating the look of Sharp's AQUOS TVs and Mitsubishi's failed yellow household robot Wakamaru.