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The human face of robotics

Robots designed to live with and assist humans was the subject of a report in the Observer this weekend. The inaugural edition of the UK paper’s tech monthly supplement featured an accessible and comprehensive account of developments in this field, including the ground breaking work of the EU funded project CHRIS (Co-operative Human Robot Interactive Systems) and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), the largest academic centre for multidisciplinary robotics research in the UK.
 "Assisted living is going to be a big industry, and whoever cracks the technology first will be able to export it to everyone else," Chris Melhuish, BRL director told the Observer. "If we don't invest in social robotics there's a risk we will be left behind."
The centre is home to an experimental assisted living space patrolled by a robot named Molly (left), manufactured by French company Robosoft. Not the cutest of robots, Molly has, nevertheless, inspired affection within the nursing homes it's visited in the Bristol area as part of a Europe-wide study into the viability of assisted living with robots. 
Despite only having training wheels to move around on, Molly is capable of a surprising range of tasks, including monitoring vital signs and navigating to whatever position in the room you happen to be. Its display also comes with a range of interactive games and tools for testing memory and recall. All this data can be recorded and stored for later study by healthcare professionals. 
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