Socially Assistive Robot, Stevie, Among TIME’S 100 Best Inventions

There is no doubt that all inventions are exciting, many are life-changing and some, downright cool, and then there is Stevie II, a heady combination of all three!

Stevie the socially assistive robot, developed by robotics experts from Trinity’s School of Engineering, features in iconic magazine TIME’s exclusive list of the 100 best inventions.

Designed by Conor McGinn and the robotics engineers at Trinity College Dublin Stevie II, Ireland’s first socially assistive AI robot was unveiled during a special demonstration at the Science Gallery in Dublin today.

The team developed a robot to help battle loneliness amongst the elderly and those living in care homes. ‘Stevie II’ is an upgraded version of Ireland’s first socially assistive robot (Stevie I) with advanced AI features.

Stevie II, is more mobile and dextrous than its predecessor and uses advanced sensing technologies including laser rangefinders, depth cameras, and vision sensors to interact intelligently with humans and its surrounding environment.

Stevie has face and voice recognition, which means he can address those he is speaking to directly, and understand and reply to commands.

Niamh Donnelly, who specializes in the artificial intelligence behind Stevie, says a more humanized side of robotics is the most requested feature.

Working with Conor and his team to secure the US registered design was a really interesting project for us, and to see all their hard work and ideas come to fruition has been incredible. Now, to watch the positive impact Stevie II will have on those he has been designed to live alongside.

Mark Carmody, my fellow director, and partner on this project commented that “Having lived in Japan for a few years in the mid-late 2000s, I was aware of and had seen robots function in society and thought they were fun and helpful. However, they were quite lifeless and, well, robotic. Stevie brought something new and an almost human feel to the robot, giving the robot character and a personality. One could easily see how it could benefit in circumstances such as care homes, children’s wards in hospitals, residential homes, etc., where the residents and patients would get a lift from such a clever piece of tech. It will never replace a human’s warmth, but it can be used to add to the well being of the people interacting with Stevie.”

In recent times, the Trinity team partnered with the Army Distaff Foundation, a US-based non-profit organization that operates Knollwood Retirement Community in Illinois, where Stevie interacted with residents and staff at the facility. the team is planning several more pilots of the technology, including a trial in the UK, where Stevie will be tested in long-term care facilities in the Cornwall region as part of the European-funded EPIC project.

Photo Credit : Brian Lawless PA/Wire

Video Credit: Trinity College Dublin

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