Tech company announces rollout of new elder-care assistant robots

The Labrador Retriever is an autonomous moving cart that could better assist a booming elderly population

By Brad Dress 

Tech company Labrador Systems announced on Wednesday it was beginning the rollout of its new assistive robots that will help senior citizens and others who need assistance in their daily life, a technology that could be transformative for elder care.

The Labrador Retriever personal robot resembles a moving cart with top and bottom trays. The autonomous machine aims to make daily activities easier for seniors by carrying essential items to people within easy reach.

The technology was developed to tackle a growing problem — a booming elderly population in the U.S. that is only expected to grow larger.

Mike Dooley, the CEO of Labrador Systems, said “the burden on caregivers is growing at a rate that is simply not sustainable.”

“Organizations are already experiencing major caregiver shortages, and in the coming years there will be significantly more people 85+ with fewer people to help take care of them,” Dooley said in a statement. “Our mission is to provide relief on both sides of that equation, empowering individuals who need care to do more on their own while extending the impact of each caregiver’s visit well beyond the time they are physically present.”

The Labrador Retriever was first previewed at a tech convention in January. A video of how it works can be viewed here. The assistive robot can carry large loads like a laundry basket and can be easily enabled by users with a smartphone for delivery services.

The Labrador Retriever Pro, a more advanced version of the standard model, is being rolled out as a service initially to just senior care homes and senior living organizations. The standard Labrador Retriever is still being tested.

The organizations who will purchase a fleet of the assistive robots include: Lok PACE, Nationwide Insurance, Masonic Homes of California, Western Homes Communities, Eskaton, The Perfect Companion, Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, University of Michigan Flint, and Graceworks Lutheran Services.

Michael Webb, chief technology officer at On Lok, a full-service care program for senior citizens, said he was “excited to be one of the first healthcare organizations to bring the Retriever Pro into homes and continue to pioneer the future of care.”

“We are continuously looking for opportunities to enhance the support we provide to seniors and provide excellent quality of care to help them age with dignity,” Webb added.

The median age of the U.S. population is expected to grow from age 38 to age 43 by 2060, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In the same period, the ratio of working age adults to retirement age adults is also expected to fall from three-and-a-half workingage adults for every retirement-aged person to two-and-a-half.

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