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World's first dressing assistance robot system developed!

 A research team led by Associate Professor Tomohiro Shibata and Assistant Professor Takamitsu Matsubara of Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) has developed the world's first dressing assistance robot system that is able to dress a dummy in about 10 seconds from where the sleeves of a T-shirt were around both arms of the dummy sitting on a chair..
 Taking clothes on and off are essential activities in everyone's daily life, but they are not easy for the elderly without full control of their arms and patients suffering upper limb paralysis. They are therefore indispensable care tasks for caregivers. The idea of making a robot to do these tasks was conceived. However, it was difficult to develop a system that could compute the optimal robot motions for manipulating soft, floppy material like clothing that can change shape in a complicated manner, while in contact with a person who has a complicated shape, a certain amount of friction, and difficulty maintaining a stable posture.
 In response, the researchteam of NAIST developed a dual-arm robot system that can move its two armslike humans.
 There are three steps for the robot to perform thedressing assistance task. The first step is to demonstrate to the robot how a human being does the task. This is accomplished by direct teach, i.e., a human directly holds and moves the arms. The next step is that the robot learns basic motor skillsfrom the demonstration shown in the first step. Then the final step is that the robot improves the learned motor skills through reinforcement learning so that it can acquire optimal motions of dressing using as few trial and errors as possible, with its vision system to recognize success or failure of the task in each trial.
 ""Lower cost, improved safety and smaller size are important factors in putting this robot system into practical use. We plan to collect data from experiments with various clothing materials and postures, sizes and shapes of various individuals being dressed, and strive to improve the robot's motions,"" says Associate Professor Shibata.
 This achievement was presented at the most renowned international conference on humanoid research held in Slovenia from October 26, 2011.
Contact : Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Graduate School of Information Science
Phone or E-mail 0743-72-5984
Website http://www.naist.jp/en/