202110

Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Social Robotics:
Top Stories of October 2021

Social Robotics

  • Getting It Right in ‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’
    Ron’s Gone Wrong Trailer
    Imperfect Robots Make Better Coworkers for Humans
    To Err Is Robot: How Humans Assess and Act toward an Erroneous Social Robot
    “‘Ron’s Gone Wrong,’ an animated comedy adventure about the budding friendship between a middle-school boy and his faulty robot. Ron’s Gone Wrong, UK-based studio Locksmith Animation has added their voice to the ongoing discussion regarding the role of technology in our increasingly AI-mediated lives. In the story of Barney, a socially awkward middle-schooler, and his relationship with the eponymous B*Bot, Ron – a digitally-connected device that’s a few bits short of a byte – the filmmakers touch on a number of hot-button issues, while exploring the true nature of friendship (and of course providing a lot of laughs). In addition to the big theme of digital devices and social media’s roles in our lives, Ron’s Gone Wrong also deals with such issues as one-parent families and their effect on kids, and the immigrant experience in America.”

  • Employees are not showing up to work — employers are replacing them with robots
    Verizon’s Small Business Recovery Survey
    “A recent survey from Verizon of more than 600 U.S. small businesses found that 30 percent have already adopted digital tools to help compensate for a shortage of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In retail, for example, supermarket chain Hy-Vee announced that it is testing shelf-scanning inventory management robots in its stores, while ShopRite is piloting robotic delivery. Amazon is quietly rolling out thousands of self-service grocery stores manned by a skeleton staff of workers to restock shelves — until they’re eventually replaced by robots. In the United Kingdom, supermarket giant Tesco has come up with its own “walkout store” to compete against Amazon.”

  • Paralympics wins with Panasonic Robots
    “Panasonic also introduced the ATOUN HIMICO, a suit worn by the staff at the Olympics and Paralympics to help lighten fatigue from so much walking.” | “In creating the ATOUN HIMICO, we were thinking of two scenarios—one is for elderly people. They have a hard time getting out of their homes, and this could aide them to go out and walk more, improving their quality of life. Since it takes the pressure off of the knees, this will allow for them to walk further, even go on hikes, without becoming fatigued quickly. The second thought behind this suit is for people whose job requires them to walk around for extended periods of time. It will aide them in becoming less fatigued, allowing them to do their jobs easily and also keeping their body safe. The staff at the 2020 games wore them because they are always walking around for long periods of time and using stairs frequently.”

  • Your Little Rocket Scientist Can Design a Robot for NASA in This New Contest
    Lunabotics Junior Contest
    “Now they have a chance to help design a new robot for an excavation mission on the moon! The Lunabotics Junior Contest is accepting entries now and harnesses the creativity of young engineers. The contest is a collaboration between NASA and Future Engineers and assists a future Artemis Moon base. Competing students will design a robot that digs and moves lunar soil to a holding container. Submissions must include an image of the robot design and a written summary conceptualizing how it will operate on the Moon.”

  • ‘Rent-A-Robot’ Is A Game Changer For Manufacturing
    “A collaborative robot, or cobot, designed to enable the human workers to take on higher-value tasks. For years, cobots have been shown to make manufacturing processes faster and more efficient, but research shows that fewer than 10% of manufacturers use them. Among those not using cobots was the chemical company mentioned above, which wasn’t initially inclined to bet big on new technology when the status quo was largely good enough. That’s why a “rent-a-robot” model—which is gaining steam across the country—made so much sense.

  • Saks E-Commerce Business Pairs Robots With Worker
    “Seven months after launching its stand-alone e-commerce unit, Saks Fifth Avenue said Tuesday it has started shipping online orders from a high-tech Pennsylvania warehouse, deploying dozens of autonomous robots programmed to help workers find Giambattista Valli gowns and Christian Louboutin pumps. With its new team of robots and the advanced facility, both operated by GXO Logistics Inc., Saks is aiming to keep up with skyrocketing online sales.”

  • Meet Gary, The Robot That Can Tidy The House And Do The Laundry
    “Grab Gary when he goes on the market next year: He can pick up toys or dirty socks, water the plants and serve food. Gary wasn’t designed to play your favorite tunes on demand or to connect a video call to your grandkids. Instead, Gary could remove dirty towels from the laundry basket and put them in the washer (great for the gym or at home). He can water the plants, load the dishwasher and open jars. Gary can carry up to 11 pounds in his two robotic arms (although he hasn’t quite mastered the art of folding clothes, Altagar says). His sensors and cameras include one to take a 3D view of a room and an infrared camera to see in the dark. A sociable robot: When a Gary first comes to your home or business, he’s somewhat of a blank slate. An app may tell him what to do in broad strokes, but he needs some personal orientation. The host will teach Gary. He’ll explain to Gary which room is the bedroom and where the socks are that need to be picked up. After the first interaction, Gary will ask for feedback. The host will explain to Gary what he did that was good or bad and Gary will improve for the next time.”

  • Hawaii Using Robot Dog To Patrol Homeless Community For Signs of COVID-19
    “In Hawaii this year, the Honolulu Police Department employed a robotic dog from the company Boston Dynamics to patrol and monitor a homeless community. Equipped with cameras, two-way communication, artificial intelligence, and autonomous data collection capabilities, the robot scans eyes to detect for fevers — which could signal a person has COVID-19 — and interviews those who have tested positive.”

  • Former Google Exec Warns Of Apocalyptic Threat: Artificial Intelligence Researchers Are ‘Creating God’
    “Mo Gawdat, the former Chief Business Officer with Google’s Research and Development division, warns that the researchers who are developing this artificial intelligence are “creating God.” Gawdat also warned that artificial intelligence has the potential to reach what is referred to as technological singularity, becoming self sufficient and if that were to happen it would become uncontrollable and it would be irreversible.

  • New technology can make manual labor 60 percent easier
    EksoVests, a type of exoskeletons, can reduce muscle strain by 60 percent for workers in the industrial, the logistics and the construction sectors, according to a new study from University of Gävle. Statistics from the US car manufacturer Ford show that sick leave was reduced by 85% when workers wore EksoVests.

  • Teach Your Kids Robotics with This Mini Robot Arm Education Kit
    WLKATA Mirobot -The Smallest 6 axis Robotic Arm
    WLKATA Mirobot 6 Axis Robot Arm 2021
    “This robotics kit comes with everything necessary to build a robotic arm, plus a wireless Bluetooth controller to control the arm. The compact arm weights about the size of a laptop and has 0.2mm repeated positioning accuracy that’s perfect for light-duty tasks. It has 6-axis freedom, ideal for learning and demonstrating production line practices. It’s designed to function like a real industrial robot pendant. You can always check WLKATA and the Github community to access the up-to-date Mirobot Education Resource for tutorials, source code, DIY guidance, models, and more to do even more with your kit. “

  • China publishes code of ethics to regulate Artificial Intelligence, what would Isaac Asimov say?
    “China has already published a six-point code of ethics to regulate Artificial Intelligence, giving ‘full decision-making power’ to humans, very similar to Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics. Last April, the European Union presented the preliminary draft of a regulation to ensure that humans have control over AI. However, this has not materialized and now China is a pioneer in launching a regulation for these booming technologies. As reported by The South China Morning Post , the document entitled Ethical Specifications for New Generation Artificial Intelligence starts from a very clear premise: “Ensure that AI is always under the control of human beings” and that they have “full decision-making power ” About AI.”

  • Could robot cats solve Japan’s waiter shortfall?
    “A fleet of 2,000 robot cats will stand in for human waiters at a Japanese restaurant chain to plug the human resources gap. Like many countries, Japan is currently suffering from a chronic staff shortage in the hospitality sector. But one Japanese restaurant chain has come up with an innovative solution to the problem. A litter of robot cats, called BellaBots, will stand in for human waiters at Skylark restaurants to make up the shortfall. There is also the added bonus of the robot felines having a lower risk of spreading Covid-19.”

Dementia

  • Deterioration of Brain Cells in Parkinson’s Disease Is Slowed by Blocking the Bach1 Protein
    “Bach1, a protein that blocks the expression of genes associated with neuroprotection, has been implicated in Parkison’s disease. Researchers say blocking Bach1 slows the deterioration of brain cells in preclinical models of Parkinson’s disease. Dopamine producing brain cells (stained brown) were protected with HPPE in neurotoxin-based PD model compared to vehicle control cells.”

  • Common drug may have potential for treating Alzheimer’s disease
    “An FDA-approved drug used for high blood pressure and swelling, called bumetanide, alleviated symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. Electronic health records revealed a lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease among people who’d taken the drug. The finding suggests that bumetanide warrants further investigation as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers confirmed that bumetanide reversed AD-associated gene expression changes in the mice. Bumetanide had a similar effect on gene expression in cultured APOE4 human neurons. Finally, the researchers used electronic health records to compare AD prevalence and orders for bumetanide among people over the age of 65. They found a 35-75% lower prevalence of AD in people who were exposed to bumetanide compared with those who weren’t.”

  • Seniors Get Companionship With The Robotic Pets Program Through The Aging Services
    “Through the Adult Day Services Program, a total of 19 robotic dogs and cats were distributed to the clients. The Florida Department of Elder Affairs has given out more than 7,000 of the robotic pets.  The Adult Day Services Program provides the lifelike robotic pets, such as a dog or a cat, to clients who have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.The Florida Department of Elder Affairs started this initiative in April 2020.”

  • Two personality traits may be linked to Alzheimer’s pathology
    “A buildup of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The study finds that neuroticism increases the likelihood of developing amyloid plaques and tau tangles, and that being conscientious reduces the likelihood of developing them.”

  • USC researchers find links between air pollution, Alzheimer’s
    “In the research, cars and factories were found to produce a form of pollution called PM2.5 that USC-led studies linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. In the research, cars and factories were found to produce a form of pollution called PM2.5 that USC-led studies linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Once inhaled, the PM2.5 particles pass directly from the nose to the brain, and beyond the blood-brain barrier that normally protects the brain from dust and other toxic substances.”

  • New study suggests that breastfeeding may help prevent cognitive decline
    “A new study led by researchers at UCLA Health has found that women over the age of 50 who had breastfed their babies performed better on cognitive tests compared to women who had never breastfed. The findings, published in Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, suggest that breastfeeding may have a positive impact on postmenopausal women’s cognitive performance and could have long-term benefits for the mother’s brain. Key findings from the researchers’ analysis of the data collected from questionnaires on the women’s reproductive history revealed that about 65% of non-depressed women reported having breastfed, compared to 44% of the depressed women. All non-depressed participants reported at least one completed pregnancy compared to 57.8% of the depressed participants. Interestingly, the researchers also found that longer time spent breastfeeding was associated with better cognitive performance. “

  • A decade of locating missing persons, Project Lifesaver lauded with 26 successful uses
    “For the last decade, Project Lifesaver has made life safer for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia across Wellington County with a perfect record of locating those who have wandered. Liz Kent, executive director of Victim Services Wellington, said the program has no downsides due to the low cost, accessibility and life-saving availabilities.” 

  • Eli Lilly begins rolling submission of Alzheimer’s candidate donanemab
    “Eli Lilly has begun a rolling submission of a BLA for its Alzheimer’s disease candidate donanemab. The drugmaker has also begun another phase 3 trial, TRAILBLAZER-ALZ 4, which pits donanemab against Biogen’s Aduhelm (aducanumab). The goal of that study is to show the Lilly drug is superior at clearing amyloid plaque from the brain.”