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‘This is groundbreaking’: UMD partnership transforms medical technology with humanoid robots

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DULUTH, MN-- For the first time in the United States, humanoid robots will help care for patients in assisted living spaces.

These robots are programmed to provide emotional, physical, and cognitive support in advanced ways.

UMD computer science professor Arshia Khan and her students are responsible for these robots.

The bots are about to be sent off for a pilot program at eight Minnesota-based Monarch Health Care facilities.

"This is groundbreaking this is absolutely the first time in the history of the United States. No one has done this before it's been done in Japan but never in the U.S. Using robots, humanoid robots, to help offer care," Kahn said.

Marc Halpert, Chief Operating Officer at Monarch Healthcare Management, said the bots can transform medical care for the better.

"I would love to see them like be in every facility. Be a roommate to every resident. That they can be there sitting there, excited about - they're the loved one of the residents when their family can't be there," Halpert said.

Robots tell jokes and keep lonely patients company, support emotional needs.

Others ask about physical health, call doctors, and do exercise for the patient to follow such as yoga or tai chi.

Lastly, robots can help patients with dementia or Alzheimers. They play music and show pictures repeatedly to remind them of their past.

Khan said this is just the beginning for her robots.

"This is just the start, this is a two-year start and pilot program and we plan to continue this and plan to do this in the kitchen. There are more robots coming, there are more applications coming," Kahn said.

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Abigael Smith

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