Could robots help tackle the ageing population problem?

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A young, social robotist who, next month, will represent Australia at a meeting of the world's top scientists, believes robots could help tackle the world's ageing population?

This article is part of a series of SBS News stories marking National Science Week (11–19 August). 

Indian-born PhD student Chand Gudi believes artificial intelligence could one day solve the problem of an ageing population. 

"Social robots can be a part of their lives, supporting them, being a companion, like their carers, in the future," he told SBS. 

Mr Gudi is studying social robotics at the University of Technology, Sydney and is examining how the emerging field can assist humans.

He's a member of UTS' 'Magic Lab' team, a centre for artificial intelligence, which Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple is a part of.

The Magic Lab team and Apple Co-Founder, Steve Wozniak.
The Magic Lab team and Apple Co-Founder, Steve Wozniak.

Last year, the team entered world's biggest robot competition, Robocup, in Japan and won the Human-Robot Interaction Award.

"We developed a whole system. A robot is a multi-media kind of device," the lab's director, Professor Mary-Anne Williams told SBS. 

"So, it can move, it can point, it can gesture, it can display things on its screen, it can change its lights, it can move around. So orchestrating that all together is a challenging task.

"Chand was very important in our efforts to achieve this quite extraordinary system that, won that prize."

Mr Gudi said the robot, known as Habanero can be a companion to humans.

"It can share its feelings, or emotions, and be a part of the human life."

His goal is to make ground-breaking contribution in the field of robotics using artificial intelligence, which can make a big impact on society.”

“For example, the role of a robot is to act as a companion to an elderly person or to ensure they take their medications on time. In the future, I can also see robots taking on the role of coach or giving advice to humans in different situations,” he said.

Global footprint

Chand Gudi boasts an impressive resume.

His footprint in the science world spans continents – from studying engineering in South Korea to winning the European Satellite Navigation Competition in Norway.

Social robotics explores how robots can assist humans
Social robotics explores how robots can assist humans
Tori Heron

He’s also taken part in a self-driving car competition in China and his work has even reached outer space, having worked with the Indian Space Agency.

It’s no wonder Mr Gudi was offered three separate scholarships to study in Australia.

His professor, Mary-Anne Williams, said the Australian science community is incredibly lucky to have him.

“It's a tremendous privilege to have a student like Chand in the lab because he's inspiring all of the other students around him,” she told SBS.

“I hope he stays here.”

That’s the plan – for now.

Next month, Mr Gudi will represent Australia at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany.

The highly prestigious event will see 200 leading young mathematicians and computer scientists from around the world engage in a cross-generational scientific dialogue with the laureates of the most prestigious prizes in their fields: the Abel Prize, Turing Award, Nevanlinna Prize and Fields Medal.

Mr Gudi, who was also selected for the Australian Academy of Science Fellowship, is one of only 30 of the 200 researchers who will present their research.

social Robotics student Chand Gudi
Supplied.

AI to treat dementia

Mr Gudi has four registered patents. while three more are pending and another - a smartwatch for dementia suffers - is being processed.

Designed to prevent injuries, it's fitted with fall detection sensors that trigger airbags.

“So when they fall, it [the airbags] will come out, so making sure they are safe,” he said.

“We hope that it can save lots of lives.”

The idea, a collaboration between Mr Gudi and his friend, Ashish Rauniyar, a PhD fellow at the University of Oslo won  the Norwegian Challenge of the 2017 European Satellite Navigation Competition.

The wearable device is designed to the head and hips, has real-time geotracking of patients in a predefined area, and sends alerts to caregivers if patients leave that area.

It’s now being developed in Norway.

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