Lucy Ward tests her robot program
Lucy Ward tests her robot program

This summer, 90 students from across the nation participated in Washington State University’s summer undergraduate research program where they worked with award-winning professors in cutting-edge facilities. For many, the experience opened their eyes to the world of possibilities research offers.

Lucy Ward, an incoming freshman at the University of Wyoming, worked with Diane Cook, a professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science to build a robot that can work with Cook’s smart home system to assist older residents.

The current smart home system is able to detect habits and routine activities, but it can do little to assist someone who is struggling. However, the robot will be able to tell if a resident has skipped one of their routine activities, approach the resident and remind them to complete it, and provide assistance with completing the task if necessary. Ward tested the capabilities of the robotic arm, evaluated the accuracy of the visualization software that generates a map of the smart home, and checked the accuracy of the odometer readings from the robot.

“I worked with a lot of smart people and we worked together to create something that will help others,” said Ward. “The idea of taking real data and applying it to answer a question is really cool.”