Press release: Mirkku the mobile robot to help elderly people

2.6.2023Taru HyrkäsNews

Mirkku is a mobile robot from the joint RoboRFID project of Satakunta University of Applied Sciences and the University of Tampere, which is visiting the Diakon's DiaHavu elderly home from 26.5.- 8.6.2023 for a test run. Mirkku mobile robot is in the research phase and will be tested for the first time together with residents of the DiaHavu. Mirkku is being tested to ensure that its functions run as smoothly as possible and are suitable for the everyday lives of the elderly residents.

A man is using a mobile robot.
Altti Varho, a resident of DiaHavu, is among the first ones willing to learn how Mirkku the mobile robot works.

Robotics is already used to help and open new possibilities, from industrial to service sectors, including the challenges of an aging population. As cost-saving measures target the elderly service sector, the use of technology is set to increase. A mobile robot could be one way to boost the technology use, while helping with rising costs and labor shortages. The mobile robot is specifically designed for logistical tasks. In elderly services, these tasks would include transporting goods, shopping bags and, for example, laundry. Now, the mobile robot Mirkku has learned new skills, such as familiarising the residents with the building and its functions as well as guiding them on a tour consisting physical activities.

As smart devices and "intelligence" increase in our daily lives, only a fraction of the technologies' potential has found its way into our use. One challenge is the lack of awareness of the potential of technology and the various stereotypes about the loss of human contact and being at the whim of technology. However, with the right planning and joint development, technology can be a source of great benefit and joy.

– The feedback so far from professionals in different fields has been inspiring. The development work has reinforced the experience of the need for collaboration in developing different solutions to serve older people. At its best, technology can create entirely new services, facilitate the work of professionals and enrich the lives of elderly people. However, to achieve this, we need a diverse and multidisciplinary approach, says Mirka Leino, Principal Lecturer at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences.

– We would especially like to thank Diakon and their elderly people for their cooperation. The cooperation is important for the project, as the testing could not be organised without you, says Sari Merilampi, Researching Principal Lecturer at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences.

The joint project RoboRFID, A novel combination of mobile robots and passive RFID for ensuring functioning of critical care environments during major crises, funded by the Academy of Finland and jointly run by Satakunta University of Applied Sciences and the University of Tampere, involves learning, development and research. A key element is strong customer involvement in the development work and building a common understanding of the potential of robotics and wearable technology. The aim is to understand the right role for technology. At its best, technology frees up people's time for what matters most: meeting and caring.

– All in all, this is a great experiment and it's great that the residents have enthusiastically joined in the testing, summarises Sanna-Mari Pudas-Tähkä, Director of Diakon.


More information:

Mirka Leino, Principal Lecturer at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, 044 710 3182.

Sari Merilampi, Researching Principal Lecturer, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, 044 710 3171.

Media release published 29.5.2023



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