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November 11, 1988 - Image 94

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-11-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

E
r

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Yoram Koren displays his robot Carmel. The device could be an aid for
sufferers of Alzheimers disease.

New Robot To Assist
Bedridden People

JUDITH L. ABRAMS

Special to The Jewish News

W

hat moves at a rate
of one meter per
second, avoids
obstacles in its path, can see
in the dark, and makes its
home at the University of
Michigan's College of
Engineering? Carmel, the
latest advance in robotics
technology.
The pathfinder robot was
developed by Yoram Koren,
professor of mechanical
engineering and applied
mechanics, to aid bedridden
people. "The nursing robot
helds people by bringing
them medicine, opening
doors, and operating simple
switches like those on a
television," Koren said.
Unlike other robots, Carmel
— which stands for Computer-
Aided Robotics for
Maintenance, Emergency and
Life Support — can sense and
avoid objects in its way
without stopping.
Carmel's technology allows
it to survey conditions that
might be harmful to humans.
"It can work in hostile condi-
tions such as those associated
with nuclear power plants,"
Koren said.
The robot can replace
radioactive filters, for exam-
ple, an activity that requires
many safety precautions on
the part of technicians. Scien-
tists must spend about two
hours putting on protective
clothing to investigate
dangerous areas: Carmel,
however, can safely operate in
hazardous environments such

as those obscured by steam,
smoke and foreign chemicals.
The robot can eliminate the
delays and risks common to
nuclear power plants.
A native of Israel, Koren
was educated at the Technion,
Israel's institute of
technology. His background
explains the name of the
robot.
"I wanted a name that
could be pronounced in both
Hebrew and English," the
scientist said. The Technion is
located on Mount Carmel in
Haifa and hence the robot's
name. Only later did Koren
change the name to an
acronym to explain the
robot's function to those out-
side the scientific community.

Koren's interest in robotics
was sparked at the Technion.
In 1980, he began his work at
the University of Michigan.
He returned to the Technion
two years later to further his
research with Ph.D. student
Johann Borenstein. Upon the
insistence of U-M's dean of
engineering and a grant from
the United States Depart-
ment of Energy, Koren
returned to Michigan, bring-
ing Borenstein with him.
The two are working to im-
prove the health-related
capabilities of the robot in
conjunction with a hospital
grant at the university. Spon-
sored by the Veteran's Ad-
ministration, they are
developing a rehabilitation
robot devoted to the needs of
brain-injured patients.
According to Koren, Carmel
could help patients with
Alzheimers disease ac-

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