How Robotics, Apps Can Improve Quality of Life

Andy Winnegar | Santa Fe New Mexican | September 3, 2017

Recently, I worked a booth for the Southwest ADA Center at the annual Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology conference held in New Orleans. The event was filled with interactive exhibits and workshops on robotics, artificial intelligence and technologies for people with disabilities. One researcher was gathering data for a robotics engineering center working on a therapy support robot. She brought up the telepresence robot, PadBot.

Like Skype or Facetime on wheels, the virtual communication robot is intended for telecommuting on a smartphone when illness, disability or a busy schedule prevents a person from being physically present. Soon after I returned to Santa Fe, I was contacted by the father of a wheelchair user who was not able to access the upstairs entertainment at the Meow Wolf art complex at 1352 Rufina Circle.

Under the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Meow Wolf facility may not be required to provide an elevator, even though it made alterations to the old bowling alley. However, the group will need to provide accommodations, to the maximum extent feasible, so that all customers can enjoy the same opportunities to the amusement activities upstairs. Of course, there are many solutions for getting upstairs, including a stair lift, but why not an interactive robot?...