PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Artificial intelligence may soon be used to assist in elder care to allow people to age in their homes for longer.

A National Science Foundation grant has awarded a team of researchers from universities across the nation $20 million to develop the A.I. 

That includes faculty from Oregon State University and Oregon Health and Sciences University. 

Researchers hope it can be used for things like enabling a smart home to send reminders for when a stove is left on, medication schedules or contacting caregivers or family in an emergency. 

“It’s more about determining what is going on inside than it is about physically have a robot monitor or help the person,” said Kagan Tumer, Director of the Collaborative Robotics Intelligence Systems Institute at Oregon State University, one of the grant recipients. 

Sleep-sensing technology will be a key feature on Google’s next generation of its Nest Hub, a 7-inch display unveiled Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Google via AP)

Kagan said developing such personal A.I. presents many technical challenges. While today’s A.I. focuses on choices or action of a narrow criteria and for a short amount of time–like an A.I. that can hold its own in a game of chess–an elderly care A.I. would need to interact with multiple people over months and years and adapt to changing conditions and goals. 

The goal is not to replace human caretakers, Tumer said, but to assist them in creating support networks that can handle routine tasks and enable the medical professionals to focus on critical care.

“You could add many, many years of living in your own home to a lot of folks who are ageing. And this is what we’re talking about ageing in place rather than have managed care, necessarily,” he said.

The lead in the grant research is Sonia Chernova of Georgia Tech and will fund the creation of the NSF A.I. Institute for Collaborative Assistance and Responsive Interaction for Networked Groups, or AI-CARING. The grant will span five years and also include faculty from Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Google and Amazon are also supporting the project as industry sponsors.

“I am delighted to announce the establishment of new NSF National AI Research Institutes as we look to expand into all 50 states,” said National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “These institutes are hubs for academia, industry and government to accelerate discovery and innovation in AI. They lead to new capabilities that improve our lives from medicine to entertainment to transportation and cybersecurity while growing the economy and maintaining global competitiveness.”

The NSF is funding 11 centers within its National AI Research Institutions program in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, a press release from OSU said