As people in industrialised countries grow older and older, appropriate care is needed. But qualified personnel is lacking. The TU in Munich wants to create a remedy with for this a project. According to the researchers, robot assistants will support old people in their daily life and thus enable a self-determined life.

In field studies, it will be tested whether robot assistants can furnish also the necessary assistance, and for this reason, the TUM opened the User and research centre Geriatronik in Garmisch Partenkirchen. In the future, new robot assistants will be researched there on the premises of the former hotel management school. The scientists have two floors with about 700 square meters at their disposal. Initially, 15 researchers from the Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence (MSRM) will work here. It is planned to increase the number of employees to up to 40 MSRM members. The Geriatronik Centre is an important part of the MSRM Lighthouse Initiative, focusing on the future of health.

Aid in everyday life

Geriatronik’s most important project is the two-arm robot assistant Garmi. With his help, elderly people are to be supported in everyday activities such as getting up from an armchair. Garmi will also be used in telemedicine, however: For example, during routine examinations or in emergencies, physicians could act from a distance without delay. Thus remote treatments could become possible.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen model city

The fact that the project plays an important role for the Free State of Bavaria and for Garmisch-Partenkirchen was demonstrated during the opening of the research centre. State Minister Dr. Florian Herrmann, Head of the State Chancellery and 1st Mayor Dr. Sigrid Meierhofer of Garmisch-Partenkirchen were present. The user and research centre is financed by subsidies from the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs and LongLeif GaPa gGmbH. It manages the assets received from the Leifheit-Stiftung for the Garmisch-Partenkirchen market. The aim is to turn the current location into a model city for geriatrics with the new research project.

LongLeif managing director Viktor Wohlmannstetter said about the project: “Our goal is to develop Garmisch-Partenkirchen into a model city for intelligent assistance robotics systems in old age on the basis of forward-looking senior care concepts”. Prof. Sami Haddadin, Director of MSRM, added: “The name says it all. We will carry out geriatric research here and bring the technology into contact with the people in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, who will benefit from our developments in the application.”

First eight years

The project of the TUM is initially designed for eight years. However, the hotel management school is only acting as a temporary location. In the long term, the user and research centre will be accommodated on the planned LongLeif campus. The campus is to become a generalist training centre for nursing staff and house the new Caritas nursing home. LongLeif is currently still looking for a suitable site.

Photo: Minister of State Dr. Florian Hermann tested a shaving robot at the opening. In the background Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s 1st mayor Dr. Sigrid Meierhofer and Prof. Sami Haddadin are talking. (Picture: U. Benz / TUM)

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