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Making meals robotic

Mary Örnborg · 7 Nov 2007
Uppdaterad 16 Feb 2011

Bestic” soon to be disabled people’s dinner companion

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Bestic helps disabled people to feed themselves. Teaching it to eat soup has been a major challenge for developers.
Bestic helps disabled people to feed themselves. Teaching it to eat soup has been a major challenge for developers.Foto: Lotta Imberg

FEEDER. Swedish researchers have produced prototype of a robotic arm that can help disabled people to feed themselves.

The robot, called Bestic, is controlled using buttons, a joystick or other controls and can hold a spoon or a pincer. Developer Ann-Louise Norén is now trying to adapt Bestic to overcome some remaining difficulties, such as eating soup:

”I tried eating soup using Bestic, but there were a few spillages as the soup dripped under the spoon. So now I’m working on a way to programme the robot to wipe the spoon on the side of the bowl before it lifts it up to the mouth,” Norén said.

One challenge for the team is to find a way to teach the robot to recognize involuntary spasms in patients and to distinguish these from deliberate moves.

While the main purpose of the robot is to be an eating aid, the inventors say they are looking into adapting it for other functions:”One request was for sandwich tongs. Tools which can hold makeup brushes and toothbrushes are also on the list,” she said.

The robot, which is set to cost 50,000 kronor, will be available for order from March.

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Mary Örnborg
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