PROTOTYPE: Self Organized Robot Team (SORT) Is A Swarm Of Assistive Robots That Can Help Disabled People De-clutter And Organize Their Living Spaces

Photo illustrating a SORT prototype delivering a medication bottle to user at scheduled time with prompt reminder

When we look at storage space in our immediate environment, it’s mostly horizontal in the form of cabinets, shelves, and tabletop surfaces. More often than not, we clutter these spaces and finding items in an unorganized space can cause frustrations and ultimately impact our physical and mental wellness negatively. The clutter can easily go out of control in smaller urban apartments where floor and storage space is minimal. A messy environment is especially challenging for people with disabilities and senior adults who may have mobility challenges and may not be able to reach for items easily.

To address these challenges and contribute to the de-cluttering process in a person’s living space, Mengzi Zhang, a Ph.D student at Cornell’s Architectural Robotics Lab started looking beyond floor space and created a working prototype of a swarm of small assistive robots that can take advantage of wall space even if it’s not reachable to store personal items and not only deliver them as and when needed.

Zhang calls these wall climbing robots SORT (Self Organized Robot Team) that can deliver items to the user by slowly scaling the walls in their environment. As the video shows below, with some gestures, the robot can not only fetch the needed items but also put them back when the user is done with them. Other potential uses can be delivering mail, bringing a mask when the user approaches a door, being a light source in dark places, and reminding the user to take medication.

A visual representation of a wall with SORT robots holding various items like breathing device, cough drops, nebulizer med, steroid inhaler, and oxygen meter. They are all attached to a wall. There is a silhoutte of a man sitting in a chair who presumably has COVID. He will be using the SORT robots to get access to each item in order to recover from covid.

Here’s another scenario where depending on time of the day, SORT brings John his medication and other items to help him recover from COVID.

At this stage, SORT is a lab experiment and a working prototype but this system definitely has potential. How do you envision SORT can help you? What else would you like it to do? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: IEEE

Additional reading: Self-Organizing Robot Team (SORT): A Multi- Robot, Wall Climbing Organizer-and-Delivery System for Living Spaces

How Many Robots Do You Want? A Cross-Cultural Exploration on User Preference and Perception of an Assistive Multi-Robot System

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