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Towards an Assistive Robot that Autonomously Performs Bed Baths for Patient Hygiene


October 2010



This paper describes the design and implementation of a behavior that allows a robot with a compliant arm to perform wiping motions that are involved in bed baths. A laser-based operator-selection interface enables an operator to select an area to clean, and the robot autonomously performs a wiping motion using equilibrium point control. We evaluated the performance of the system by measuring the ability of the robot to remove an area of debris on human skin.

We tested the performance of the behavior algorithm by commanding the robot to wipe off a 1-inch square area of debris placed on the surface of the upper arm, forearm, thigh, and shank of a human subject. Using image processing, we determined the hue content of the debris and used this representation to determine the percentage of debris that remained on the arm after the robot completed the task. In our experiments, the robot removed most of the debris (>96%) on four parts of the limbs. In addition, the robot performed the wiping task using relatively low force (<3 N).