Robot Probo for Medical Therapy in Hospitals

Recently more robots are being created to interact with human beings in order to satisfy certain social needs. From this point of view it has been developed a social robot named Probo, intended to comfort and emotionally interact with hospitalized children. The robot will be employed in the hospital, as a tele-interface for entertainment, communication and medical assistance. Therefore it requires the ability to express emotions, in order to do so, an emotional interface is developed to fully configure the display of emotions. The emotions, represented as a vector in an emotion space, are mapped to the degrees of freedom used in the robot. A 3D virtual model is created, providing realistic visual feedback to evaluate the design choices for the facial expressions.

The name Probo is derived from the word Proboscidea, the order containing only one family of living animals. The main aspects are a huggable appearance, an attractive trunk or proboscis, and an interactive belly-screen. The internal mechanics of the robot will be covered with foam and a removable fur-jacket.

The development of the Probo is to bring some solutions to the problems and special needs of hospitalized children. A hospitalization has a serious physical and mental influence, particularly on children.

In medical applications, Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) and Animal Assisted Activity are becoming commonly used in hospitals. AAT and AAA are expected to have useful psychological, physiological and social effects. Therefore the use of robots instead of animals has more advantages and has a better chance to be allowed in hospitals. Recently pet robots are utilized just for these purposes, Termed Robot-Assisted Therapy (RAT).

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