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Dali: Robot Walker For Elderly People in Public Spaces


June 1, 2015

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To help elderly people navigate busy public places, an European Union research project developed a robotic cognitive walker (c-Walker).  

Although the c-Walker is equipped with various hi-tech solutions, the user is not necessarily aware of them, says Trento University professor Luigi Palopoli.  

When going to a shopping mall, for example, an elderly person could pick up the c-Walker at the entrance and select the user profile most suited to them via its simple touchscreen.  The user would then select which shops to visit, and the c-Walker would guide them on the best course by using visual, acoustic, and haptic interfaces.  

The c-Walker uses radio-frequency identification tags, invisible quick response codes, and cameras to localize itself in the environment, and also can connect with remote sensors, such as surveillance cameras, and with other c-Walkers to identify crowds or other hazards. The device is equipped with brakes and motorized wheels, and haptic armbands tell users when and how to turn.  

The ACANTO consortium, which is further developing the walkers, believes it could help c-Walkers come into common use by 2020 by spinning off a company to market the device or attracting investment from a major technological manufacturer.

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