A man-made friend lends seniors a helping hand

‘Rudy’ the robot reminds users of upcoming appointments, when to take medication and also dances, plays games and music.

rudy senior robot
Photo courtesy of INF Robotics Inc.

For decades, people have joked about a day when robots will rule the world, outperforming and replacing humans in the workforce.

Now that INF Robotics Inc. has completed their yearlong “Rudy” the robot piloting program, the Fairfax County startup very well may be doing just that with their latest device acting as a stand-in caregiver.

Rudy, a unisex child-sized robot that can remind its users of when to take their medication, when they have certain appointments and help them locate misplaced items, cruises around its renters’ living space on wheels, using its arms to hold onto whatever its owner may need (Rudy cannot yet fetch items, though Anthony Nunez, CEO of INF Robotics Inc., says that they are working to add this feature).

Photo courtesy of INF Robotics Inc.

A screen on Rudy’s chest can be used to video chat with family members and doctors, and it is through this screen that a caregiver will check-in three times per day. If needed, Rudy can contact emergency personnel at all times of the day or night.

But Rudy isn’t all work and no play. The bot buddy can also converse (talking points for its owner’s specific interests can be customized), dance, play games, and play both Swing and Waltz music.

“We discovered that the quickest way to get this in the hand of seniors would be to work with homecare agencies to supply it for them in their home,” Nunez said.

According to a press release, through a partnership with the Comfort Keepers of Herndon, Rudy can be leased for 3-90 days. Short-term rentals cost $100 per day, though there are deals for long-term rentals. As of Nov. 9, Nunez said that there are four beta model Rudys available in the Northern Virginia area.

“[Now is] a great chance to be part of the initial deployment as an early adopter of a safe, easy-to-use solution that allows seniors to stay in their home while keeping them connected to everyone in the senior care community,” Nunez explained.

Rudy also comes with its own app (through which reminders are set) allowing families to see how their loved one is doing from anywhere in the world.

“That type of peace of mind you can’t put a price on,” Nunez said. “What we’re doing now is … working on an aspect of that for grandchildren. Seniors can interact with their grandchildren a lot more now with Rudy in a very secure way.”