Leading center for robotic assistance for the elderly

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TUM president Thomas F. Hofmann and robot GARMI.    Image: Astrid Eckert / TUM

TUM president Thomas F. Hofmann and robot GARMI. Image: Astrid Eckert / TUM

Geriatronics Research Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

With leading local representatives and TUM President Thomas F. Hofmann in attendance, scientists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) presented their trailblazing work on robot assistants at the User and Research Center for Geriatronics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In times of demographic change and an ageing population, their work is bringing technical support systems for dignified and autonomous living in old age within reach. The aim is to establish a "geriatronics campus" as an international reference center. It will bring together under one roof modern research and teaching with new nursing care and residential concepts for the third and fourth stages of ageing.

One of the goals of the center is to enable robot GARMI to serve as a personal assistant for elderly people, helping them to perform everyday physical actions so that they can continue living independently in their own homes for as long as possible. In addition, doctors will be able connect remotely to the robot to interact directly with their patients for routine examinations and in emergencies. With the shortage of specialists in rural areas, this will be a vital technology in the future. Interdisciplinary teams at the Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence (MSRM) at TUM are working to make this vision a reality.

In his policy address in April 2018, the Bavarian Minister President Dr. Markus Söder announced the establishment of a healthcare robotics center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Interdisciplinary research on geriatronics started at TUM in Munich and the TUM User and Research Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the fall of 2018. This work is made possible through funding provided by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs and LongLeif GaPa gGmbH, which acts on behalf of the municipality of Garmisch-Partenkirchen to administer the resources provided by the Leifheit Foundation. "For TUM, it is now only logical, in line with our objectives, to create a permanent institutional base for our research activities in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This will take the form of a TUM campus, to be developed with the support of the Bavarian government," said TUM President Thomas F. Hofmann on the occasion of his visit.

Several research groups presented their projects at the TUM Research Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. These included research on robot navigation and on the topic of telemedicine. Thomas F. Hofmann said: "The rapid demographic transformation calls for new approaches and solutions to help the elderly to live with dignity and maintain their independence. Here in Garmisch-Partenkirchen the state of Bavaria, under the Hightech Agenda Bayern for artificial intelligence, can quickly move to the international forefront as a reference center in this forward-looking field of research."

The declared goal of Garmisch-Partenkirchen is to become a model municipality for the use of intelligent robot assistance systems for autonomous living and better mobility in old age. This requires a permanent commitment on the part of the state and TUM, with a research and teaching campus to provide a foundation for new vocations in nursing care, modern work/study degree programs and master’s programs in geriatronics.

During the president’s visit, plans for an interdisciplinary geriatronics campus were presented. Situated on a 29,000 square meter site near the railway station, it will provide TUM scientists with the environment they need to conduct leading-edge research. "On one point, all of the decision makers in Garmisch-Partenkirchen are in 100% agreement: By working side by side with TUM, we want to make this unique lighthouse project a reality and, with the key AI research field of healthcare robotics - starting with geriatronics - establish it here in our region," said Viktor Wohlmannstetter, the managing director of Longleif.

The AI initiative "Model community for geriatronics" will be implemented in the near future to enable local residents to play an active role in the development of technologies to support dignified and autonomous living. An example of the initiatives are the planned trial apartments, where seniors can experience the support offered in a living space equipped with geriatronics technology.


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