In this paper we report on analysis toward identifying design requirements for an Adaptive Robotic Nursing Assistant (ARNA). Specifically, the paper focuses on application requirements for ARNA, envisioned as a mobile assistive robot that can navigate hospital environments to perform chores in roles such as patient sitter and patient walker. The role of a sitter is primarily related to patient observation from a distance, and fetching objects at the patient’s request, while a walker provides physical assistance for ambulation and rehabilitation. The robot will be expected to not only understand nurse and patient intent but also close the decision loop by automating several routine tasks. As a result, the robot will be equipped with sensors such as distributed pressure sensitive skins, 3D range sensors, and so on. Modular sensor and actuator hardware configured in the form of several multi-degree-of-freedom manipulators, and a mobile base are expected to be deployed in reconfigurable platforms for physical assistance tasks. Furthermore, adaptive human-machine interfaces are expected to play a key role, as they directly impact the ability of robots to assist nurses in a dynamic and unstructured environment. This paper discusses required tasks for the ARNA robot, as well as sensors and software infrastructure to carry out those tasks in the aspects of technical resource availability, gaps, and needed experimental studies.
From the earliest need to be able to see an enemy over a hill to sending semi-autonomous platforms with advanced sensor packages out into space, humans have wanted to know more about what is around them. Issues of distance are being minimized through advances in technology to the point where remote control of a sensor is useful but sensing by way of a non-collocated sensor is better. We are not content to just sense what is physically nearby. However, it is not always practical or possible to move sensors to an area of interest; we must be able to sense at a distance. This requires not only new technologies but new approaches; our need to sense at a distance is ever changing with newer challenges. As a result, remote sensing is not limited to relocating a sensor but is expanded into possibly deducing or inferring from available information. Sensing at a distance is the heart of remote sensing. Much of the sensing technology today is focused on analysis of electromagnetic radiation and sound. While these are important and the most mature areas of sensing, this paper seeks to identify future sensing possibilities by looking beyond light and sound. By drawing a parallel to the five human senses, we can then identify the existing and some of the future possibilities. A further narrowing of the field of sensing causes us to look specifically at robotic sensing. It is here that this paper will be directed.