Monday, November 06, 2023
Australian-based robotics and AI startup Andromeda Robotics today announced it is undertaking initial trials with aged care provider Allity (part of the Bolton Clarke Group).
Powered by the Chat GPT-4 artificial intelligence platform, the robot can recognise residents, answer questions, and tailor conversations based on previous interactions.
Thena Johnstone, National Pathways Manager at Allity, said the robot has proven to be an immediate success with residents who enjoy interacting with it through voice.
“We have been fortunate enough to be involved with the prototype robot, named Abi, from the very early stages and have watched it grow in both capability and physical stature,” she said. “Abi now stands some 120cm tall and can gesture and move its head and eyes when interacting with residents.”
Johnstone said ongoing staff shortages across the aged care sector meant it was sometimes difficult to find times for conversations with residents. This is where a robot such as Abi can add significant value.
“Unfortunately, feelings of loneliness and depression are all too common in aged care,” she said. “I see a huge opportunity for robots such as Abi to make a real difference for residents and their quality of life. They can’t replace humans but can complement the fantastic levels of care that our staff provide.”
A process of evolution
Andromeda founder Grace Brown said the initial trial at Allity was a significant step in the ongoing evolution of Abi and would provide invaluable data for the company’s development team.
“Abi uses a mix of machine vision, artificial intelligence and Chat GPT to power its interactions with residents,” she said. “The robot also relies on non-verbal cues and we have worked with advisors from animation studios Pixar and DreamWorks to make Abi’s body language as empathetic and engaging as possible.”
Brown said that, while the concept of companion robots was not new, they had been slow to take off because their ability to interact and people skills had tended to be quite poor.
“Recent advances in technology are helping Abi to take conversational AI to the next level,” she said. “This is not just when it comes to communicating with people but also making an emotional connection which is so important.”
To assist Andromeda scale up its development and trial activities, the company has joined the Boab AI Scaleup Program to help bring their AI product to market while continuing to raise additional funding from venture investors.
“We were also involved in Amazon’s AWS Robotics Startup Acceleration program and have raised over $1 million led by Galileo Ventures,” said Brown. “This will allow us to continue our development program with the aim of bringing a fully functional robot to market within the next 18 months.”