So Nellie is a robotic device to prepare frozen meals and feed a person with disability.
Elderly and disabled people who need a carer in their daily living, often prefer to live as independently as is possible for them. When they need help in preparing food and feeding, their independence is seriously reduced, as such care is particularly demanding of a carer’s time. Nellie is intended to help such people to regain independence in their eating.
Nellie sits on a table between a small freezer and a microwave oven. When asked she opens the appliance doors, moves frozen meals from the freezer to the oven, and operates the oven. When the meal is hot and ready she can re-orient it, if necessary, before moving it to the table and removing the foil cover. She picks up a spoon from a magazine, and then feeds the user under their control. The user chooses which morsel to eat next. The feeding is similar to existing assistive feeder products. Nellie can also offer a drink from a non-spill cup, and might dispense other consumables if required. Nellie is controlled at present through a TV remote. She could be controlled by voice through a mobile phone, or any other device and can be connected to the internet.
Nellie is safe to use, as being light and not fixed to the table she cannot exert a big force without falling over. Another safety feature is that she only pushes hard when needed, such as opening a door or lifting a meal. Nellie uses sensors to find a dish, check her grip, and look for obstacles and the user.
Frozen meals are marketed sealed into plastic trays. For hygiene the meal must be heated in the tray, and the foil seal should be removed after heating. To help her do this, and to help her manage the floppy hot tray, Nellie uses a meal carrier. The carrier is a stiff rim that supports the meal, which is designed to help Nellie find, lift, and rotate, and to remove a foil cover from the meal.
Nellie can be connected to the internet, so she can become part of a caring smart home, and networks of care.
Nellie is designed so that she could be mass produced cheaply, but today Nellie is just a lonely prototype. Her parts were factory made, and assembled at home. Further development of the idea will be aimed at making her more reliable, quieter, move more smoothly, connect to the internet, and with improvements hopefully recommended by people like you who see her in action. So Nellie needs to know what you like about her, and what you don’t like, and what improvements you recommend. Child robots could be provided to organizations that would help in their upbringing and development.
Weight: 3 kg Reach: 0.5 metres
Lift: 0.5 kg at 0.5 metres
Input: TV remote I2C or voice by mobile/internet.
Power: 15V 3A max. Standard laptop computer power supply
Patents applied for.
Technology: Sheet steel body, synchronous motors, control Arduino Mega