December 2022

Hello everyone! We are the Rolling Robots InvenTeam, and this is our first blog post!

We've been hard at work preparing for our Mid-Grant Technical Review. In fact, I'm writing this right after an internal tech review! We got some good news—our invention is on solid ground, and we should keep doing what we've been doing.

Throughout this process, we've been planning as we went. We started out with a comprehensive brainstorming process, coming up with many inventions as we worked towards a final selection. In the end, there wasn't much of a debate: Many of us had grandparents or other family members who rely on walkers to support them in their day-to-day lives, and we wanted to do whatever we could to help them.

Our team at Merrill Gardens Senior Living

We started thinking about how we could make a better walker. A fancy walker. A Walker 2.0. To do this, we had to find some problems with walkers to solve. In order to discover these problems, we reached out to a major user population: senior citizens. Lucky for us, our robotics workshop is right next to a senior living facility, so we were able to go over one day and investigate our elders' attitudes on walkers. 

The consensus: walkers aren't it. Person after person repeated similar complaints: Walkers were too heavy and were often out of reach. They were hard to brake and could be a cause of some dangerous falls. Walkers, meant to help save lives, often became a new risk. It was a huge problem, and one we set our minds to solving. 

The team doing some research

We began conducting research. We investigated existing patents surrounding walkers, looking into the fixes which had already been made. We investigated wheelchairs which could navigate themselves on top of toilets, etc. We did all kinds of research, both through these patents and through academic studies. We learned to unpack r-squared values and n-counts and populations and all kinds of new, mysterious, words. With time, we solidified our solutions. We invented the Walker 2.0, an electronics-enhanced walker which fixes the problems of walkers being heavy, out of reach, and hard to brake. 

How did we do this? Well, that's highly classified at the moment. To know, you should come to our final presentation at MIT in June! We'll be revealing a good portion of our details then. 

Throughout this whole process, we've been getting closer as a team—from the occasional boba/ice cream runs to the (many) inside jokes, we've quickly become an absolute unit of a team. We're looking forward to the challenge ahead and are excited to continue working to improve the world. 

Existing walker testing

In the future, we hope to have an extremely rough, basic prototype of our walker completed by the official mid-term grant review, sometime in February. We look forward to whizzing around on it in the not-so-far future, and hope that you all will enjoy seeing it, too. 

As we continue prototyping and developing our invention, we are working to never lose sight of our original target population: senior citizens. We have repeatedly gone to assisted living facilities throughout this experience and will continue seeking feedback from these stakeholders as we continue working on our invention in the future. 

I could keep going on, but I've got to get back to work on the walker. We've done a lot, and we've got a bunch more to go. See you all later!