Washington, DC - The National Institutes of Health is funding the development of robots that would make it easier for impaired seniors to get around, according to the Association of Mature American Citizens.

"To stay in their homes, elderly with mobility issues often require costly home modifications such as replacing steps with ramps or installing wheelchair lifts.  The goal of this project is to develop a four-legged robot that enhances mobility, so that the elderly can remain physically active and enjoy a healthier life with reduced reliance on the assistance of caregivers or expensive home renovations," according to robotics expert Dr. Xiangrong Shen.

Shen, an associate professor in the department of mechanical engineering at the University of Alabama, is part of the National Robotics Initiative that is funded by the NIH to develop "quality of life" devices for the elderly.  His four-legged "smart walker" has a sort of Star Wars look to it.  It allows users to "drive" it around or to easily move heavy loads at a comfortable pace.