| HONG KONG
HONG KONG Aug 2 Researchers in Japan unveiled a
robot on Tuesday that can lift a patient weighing up to 80 kg
(176 lbs) off the floor and onto a wheelchair, an innovation
they say will free healthcare workers from the back-breaking
In elderly facilities in Japan, where rapid ageing of its
society is expected to weigh on the economy, staff are required
to lift residents from the floor onto a wheelchair about 40
times a day, a task that is both difficult and energy consuming.
Nicknamed RIBA 2, the robot is soft to the touch, moves
around on wheels and responds to voice commands.
Built with rubber sensors, springs and improved joints at
its base and lower back, it can crouch and lift a patient off a
Japanese futon, a traditional mat placed on the floor.
"It can pick a person up from the floor onto a wheelchair or
a bed. The earlier robot could only lift 60 kg," said Shijie
Guo, leader of the Robot Implementation Research Team.
The team is jointly made up of experts from RIKEN, a natural
sciences research institute in Japan, and Tokai Rubber
"It is made of very soft material, of rubber, so it won't
hurt a person. Normally, to crouch and lift require a huge
motor, which would give us a huge robot. But with this robot, we
used a spring," Guo said by telephone.
The project was funded by the Japanese government and Tokai,
and the creators hope to eventually commercialise the robot, at
a time when more resources are needed to cope with challenges
posed by ageing populations around the world.
(Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Yoko Nishikawa)