‘Terminator’ carer suits going on trial

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Tuesday 28th July 2020 10:00 am
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Two Hampshire carers putting the new ‘cobots’ to good use

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HAMPSHIRE County Council has teamed up with a Japanese company named after the world-dominating robot corporation in the Terminator films to provide the first strength enhancing ‘cobot’ suits for care workers.

In the film series launched in 1985, robots produced by the fictional Cyberdyne corporation originally made human life easier, but the system corrupted and they tried to take over the world.

Now Hampshire County Council has combined with Japanese robotics developer Cyberdyne – founded in 2004 by Professor Yoshiyuki Sankai – to develop his ideas for an exoskeleton suit, or robot.

He named his venture company after the corporation in the Terminator films.

Working with the Japanese robotics developer, and PA Consulting-led Argenti Care Technology Partnership, the council began a trial of the pioneering HAL Lumbar cobots in February – and the new tech was quickly adapted to help care workers during the pandemic. Already in use in Japan, cobot units worn around the lower back actively support carers in moving objects or supporting people by using electrodes.

They also detect electrical signals between the wearer’s brain and their muscles and convert this into motion.

The council claims use of a cobot has shown that care for a person with complex needs requiring two carers working together, can, in some cases, be delivered effectively by a single person.

This not only alleviates some social distancing concerns, it will also help to make the care system more resilient.

In Hampshire it is estimated an extra 6,000 people in caring jobs could be needed over the next five years.

The council’s executive member for adult social care and health Liz Fairhurst said: “The cobot trial is all about our carers – kit which supports them and makes their job easier.

“While we don’t yet know the extent cobots will help transform care delivery, the early results are very promising, and I am increasingly confident they will play an important role in supporting our care workforce both now, and into the future.”

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