“People are fascinated by robots because they're machines that can mimic life.” — Colin Angle, co-founder of iRobot
Cutting-edge robotics at UofL
Podcast: Prioritizing data to prioritize care
Dentistry services that come to you
Optimistic about Kentucky Hemp
Know your City!
Around the region
October 27, 2020
CHAT WITH AN INNOVATOR
Meet a robotics expert from UofL's Speed School
Photo courtesy Dr. Dan Popa, University of Louisville
There are some pretty amazing things going on at the UofL J.B. Speed School of Engineering. This week we’ll talk about the Louisville Automation and Robotics Research Institute (LARRI).
Led by Dr. Dan Popa, professor of electrical and computer engineering, LARRI is a multi-disciplinary team of faculty, staff, and students who are combining their expertise in the area of automation and robotics. They are working to provide solutions for manufacturing, healthcare, and logistics challenges.
Louisville Future spoke to Dr. Popa about two important initiatives the group is currently working on.
“ARNA (Adaptive Robotic Nursing Assistant), created through a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), is an artificially intelligent robot that is designed to help nurses carry out the more routine physical tasks in hospital environments. This allows nurses to focus more on direct patient care,” Dr. Popa said. “Our aim is not to replace healthcare workers with robots, but rather to help them in areas where they are overworked or are exposed to dangerous pathogens.”
Although ARNA was originally invented to help nurses with round-the-clock patient monitoring, the team pivoted when COVID-19 became an issue. One of the adjustments made to ARNA was the addition of an ultraviolet disinfecting light and sprayable sanitizing agent that allows it to clean commonly touched surfaces where the virus might live, such as handles, tables, and elevator buttons.
“The LARRI team has been working nonstop to modify the bot. This is work that is definitely something that will continue because the need for it is crucial,” Dr. Popa said.
“Our aim is not to replace healthcare workers with robots, but rather to help them in areas where they are overworked or are exposed to dangerous pathogens.”
Jacob Berichevsky, a graduate student working on his Master of Science in electrical engineering, works in the Social Robotics lab.
“The main thing I am currently working on is helping create a program that can assess the motion quality of a subject [in real time]. This could then potentially be used as a diagnosis tool for subjects with autism spectrum disorder (ASD),” he said. “I personally enjoy working on the cutting edge of technology, and creating things that can be useful for people.”
Indeed, Popa stresses, LARRI wants to make a connection between “graduates’ theoretical education and hands-on, practical applications to local industry.”
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Prioritizing data to prioritize care
Tawanda Chitapa never had the opportunity to touch a computer in his native Zimbabwe. He did, however, recognize the opportunity in technology (apparently also a big deal in the 90s). Upon arriving at Western Kentucky University, Chitapa declared computer science his major. Today, he's at the forefront of leveraging data and AI at Norton Healthcare to help high-risk patients avoid infectious diseases and to improve recovery for those leaving the hospital.
In this week's episode of Flyover Future's Innovators podcast, hosts Ben Reno-Weber from Louisville’s Future of Work Initiative and our executive producer Brian Eichenberger talk with Chitapa about data strategy, governance, and how to serve multiple stakeholders.
Kare Mobile: On-demand dentistry that comes to you
If you’ve had a hard time accessing oral health services—or you don’t want to go into a dentist’s office during the pandemic—Kare Mobile could be the answer.
Kare Mobile offers an app you can use to schedule appointments for the services you need. Then a customized van—complete with a dentist chair and other necessary equipment—will visit you, instead of the other way around.
The startup is also licensing its model for dental care delivery as a “white-label” business, so other dental practices can roll out mobile services under their own brand. It has even developed a lightweight radiation resistant jacket called “Safe and Mobile” (S.A.M.) to help protect dental providers who are administering X-rays and don’t want to don a seven-pound lead apron.
Kentucky’s 2020 hemp harvest is small compared to 2019’s but its future is bright in the commonwealth, according to state officials. Kentucky farmers planted 5,000 acres this year compared to last year’s bumper crop of 26,000.
A couple of factors contributing to hemp's comeback: Sen. Mitch McConnell pledged $2 million for the research of hemp at the end of 2019. And while the use of hemp for CBD is still dominant, the focus is shifting to textiles, grain and fiber.
Kentucky farmers expect hemp to be valuable as livestock feed, auto parts, plastic products, concrete, and insulation, in addition to numerous nutraceutical products. What’s more, four universities in Kentucky are researching hemp, and industry leaders are lobbying the government for the green light to market hemp in food and supplements.
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Diagnosing and treating strokes faster
Norton Brownsboro Hospital has installed two digital X-ray machines that allow doctors to diagnose and treat strokes faster than ever. The technology, called Biplane Angiography, develops 3D imaging inside the brain, letting doctors see any blood vessel from any angle.
UofL lands $6 million NSA grant for cybersecurity training