November 3, 2022
Labrador Systems, which develops assistive robots aimed at home care and senior living environments, has announced the first set of deliveries of its Retriever Pro robots. The mobile robots aim to lighten the load of daily activities by physically bringing essential items within reach of humans.
Labrador said it will make the Retriever Pro available as a service, creating fleets of robots for care providers to support individuals in several settings. Organizations set to receive the first deliveries of Retriever Pro include the following: On Lok PACE, Nationwide Insurance, Masonic Homes of California, Western Homes Communities, Eskaton, The Perfect Companion, Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, University of Michigan Flint, and Graceworks Lutheran Services. The company said the Retriever is the first autonomous robot of its kind to be deployed in homes at this scale to physically assist individuals with a range of daily activities.
The new deployments follow Labrador’s series of pilot studies, where the robots were deployed in the homes of a diverse mix of individuals with different needs and conditions (see video, below).
“Our partnership with Labrador during the pilot enabled Nationwide to observe first-hand the impact the Retriever can have on individuals’ daily lives,” said Bobbi Jo Allan, Nationwide’s vice president of innovation. “As champions for helping people live as independently as possible, we’re excited at the prospect of continuing to learn alongside Labrador Systems about how best to support independent living. We look forward to deploying our own small number of robots to focus even more deeply on innovative ways we can provide value to our customers.”
“Labrador is at the forefront of creating an entirely new category of assistive robots.” added Micah Fening, innovation director at Nationwide. “We haven’t seen any other personal robot for the home with the Retriever’s capabilities.”
The Retriever Pro is designed to assist individuals where pain, injury or other health conditions impact their daily activities, Labrador said. It is large enough to carry items such as a laundry basket, but agile enough to navigate the tight spaces of a home. The Retriever Pro also features a retrieval and delivery system to bring items within reach, enabling caregivers to set up items for delivery when they are not present. Caregivers and users can command the Retriever Pro using a smartphone or with their voice through an Amazon Alexa-enabled device.
“The burden on caregivers is growing at a rate that is simply not sustainable. Organizations are already experiencing major caregiver shortages, and in the coming years there will be significantly more people in my parents’ age group (85+) with fewer people to help take care of them,” said Mike Dooley, CEO of Labrador Systems. “Our mission is to provide relief on both sides of that equation, empowering individuals who need care to do more on their own while extending the impact of each caregiver’s visit well beyond the time they are physically present.”
To validate the product and gather feedback on the Retriever, Labrador said it worked with a range of organizations to place pilot robots into homes for real-world testing.
One such organization, On Lok, was founded 50 years ago in San Francisco as a nonprofit to empower older adults to age with dignity and independence. The organization pioneered PACE, the Medicare- and Medicaid-funded Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, which enables nursing home-eligible seniors to continue to live in their home and receive care and support in their own community.
“On Lok is excited to be one of the first healthcare organizations to bring the Retriever Pro into homes and continue to pioneer the future of care,” said Michael Webb, chief technology officer at On Lok. “We are continuously looking for opportunities to enhance the support we provide to seniors and provide excellent quality of care to help them age with dignity. Labrador offers unique new ways to help us do this, and support our On Lok PACE participants, as well as assist our caregivers.”
Labrador’s pilots included tests and site visits with senior living communities, such as Masonic Homes of California, established in 1898.
“Our on-campus test of Labrador robots created quite an impression, generating excitement among our community,” said James MacRae, innovation project manager of Masonic Homes of California. “We are eager to deploy our own fleet of Labrador Retriever Pros because it supports our mission to provide best-in-class experiences for our residents while allowing our caregivers to deliver high-touch personal care.”
Labrador Systems said it plans to continue to move forward with development and testing of the standard version of the Retriever, announced earlier this year. For more details on the robot and technology, visit the Labrador Systems website here.