He noted that it costs about $65,000 to build a single robot in the lab, but told LiveScience that manufacturers have said it might cost only a "couple of thousand" to mass-produce the automatons. A part-time, human in-home caregiver can cost more than $1,500 per week.
Aside from its life-saving abilities, uBOT-5 can also remind people to take their medication, pick up packages and do some cleaning and shopping. It can even administer virtual house calls from doctors using a Web cam, microphone, touch-sensitive LCD screen and Internet connection — tools that Grupen said clients should find other uses for.
“Grandma can take the robot’s hand, lead it out into the garden and have a virtual visit with a grandchild who is living on the opposite coast,” Grupen said.
UMass computer scientists Allen Hanson and Edward Riseman helped Grupen design and build uBOT-5, along with graduate students Patrick Deegan, Emily Horrell, Shichao Ou, Sharaj Sen, Brian Thibodeau, Adam Williams and Dan Xie.