CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – U of I researchers are creating robots to help older adults with physical and mental disabilities.

The U of I is partnering with Hello Robot to bridge the gap between caregivers and those who need help.

“In some ways, the robot is this wedge that supports that balance between the care partner and the recipient. And kind of reducing that amount of stress in some ways,” Hello Robots OT Clinical Research Lead Vy Nguyen said.

The robot can carry out daily tasks like holding a spoon, dusting windows, and carrying medicine bottles. Next up, researchers will study the needs of people with mental diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia and what activities are important to them.

U of I Assistant Director of Research Harshal Mahajan said the goal is to use the robot to do the things they wish they could on their own.

“We want to them to be living in homes independently and safely,” Mahajan said. “So, a robot like this can actually provide assistance as well as monitoring for these individuals to stay safe.”

Experts also plan to create technology that lets people use the robot to communicate from around the world.

“We’re working on ensuring that that interaction is safe,” researcher Samuel Olatunji said. “Particularly because you’re not in the same physical space. You should have a good special awareness of what’s happening around the robot. Also being able to control the robot in a way that can be coordinated with the person staying with the robot.”

Researchers just got $2.5 million to work on it within the next two years. Once the web technology is complete, they plan to market the robot by spreading outreach and seeing where the needs are.