Labrador Systems this week announced the first reservations for the initial production of its assistive robots from several leading organizations in home care and senior living.
First announced in January at CES 2022, the award-winning Labrador Retriever personal robot empowers people to live more independently and extends the impact of caregivers.
The assistive robot lightens the load of daily activities by physically bringing essential items within reach. Labrador will offer home care and senior living organizations a professional grade version of the robot, the “Retriever Pro,” with additional features to help caregivers and staff manage client care.
Labrador’s first customers
Labrador will make the Retriever Pro available as a service, creating fleets of robots for care providers to deploy to support individuals in a variety of settings. Organizations set to receive the first deliveries of the Retriever Pro include: On Lok PACE, Nationwide Insurance, Masonic Homes of California, Western Homes Communities, Eskaton, The Perfect Companion, Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, University of Michigan Flint, and Graceworks Lutheran Services.
The reservations follow Labrador’s series of pilot studies, where the company’s personal assistive robots were successfully deployed in the homes of a diverse mix of individuals with different needs and conditions.
“Our partnership with Labrador during the pilot enabled Nationwide to observe firsthand the impact the Retriever can have on individuals’ daily lives,” said Bobbi Jo Allan, Nationwide’s vice president of innovation. “As champions for helping people live as independently as possible, we’re excited at the prospect of continuing to learn alongside Labrador Systems about how best to support independent living. We look forward to deploying our own small number of robots to focus even more deeply on innovative ways we can provide value to our customers.”
“Labrador is at the forefront of creating an entirely new category of assistive robots.” added Micah Fening, innovation director at Nationwide. “We haven’t seen any other personal robot for the home with the Retriever’s capabilities.”
Who is the Retriever Pro for?
The Retriever Pro is designed to assist individuals where pain, injury or other health conditions impact their daily activities. It is large enough to carry items such as a laundry basket but agile enough to navigate the tight spaces of a home.
The Retriever Pro also features a retrieval and delivery system to bring items within reach, enabling caregivers to set up items for delivery when they are not present. Caregivers and users can easily command the Retriever Pro using their smartphone or with their voice through an Alexa-enabled device.
“The burden on caregivers is growing at a rate that is simply not sustainable. Organizations are already experiencing major caregiver shortages, and in the coming years there will be significantly more people in my parents’ age group (85+) with fewer people to help take care of them,” said Mike Dooley, CEO of Labrador Systems. “Our mission is to provide relief on both sides of that equation, empowering individuals who need care to do more on their own while extending the impact of each caregiver’s visit well beyond the time they are physically present.”
Labrador’s testing process
To validate the product and gather feedback on the Retriever, Labrador worked with a range of organizations to place pilot robots into homes for real-world testing.
One such organization, On Lok, was founded 50 years ago in San Francisco as a nonprofit to empower older adults to age with dignity and independence.
The organization pioneered PACE, the Medicare- and Medicaid-funded Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, which enables nursing home-eligible seniors to continue to live in their home and receive care and support in their own community.
“On Lok is excited to be one of the first healthcare organizations to bring the Retriever Pro into homes and continue to pioneer the future of care,” said Michael Webb, chief technology officer at On Lok. “We are continuously looking for opportunities to enhance the support we provide to seniors and provide excellent quality of care to help them age with dignity. Labrador offers unique new ways to help us do this, and support our On Lok PACE participants, as well as assist our caregivers.”
Labrador’s pilots included tests and site visits with senior living communities, such as Masonic Homes of California, established in 1898.
“Our on-campus test of Labrador robots created quite an impression, generating excitement among our community,” said James MacRae, innovation project manager of Masonic Homes CA. “We are eager to deploy our own fleet of Labrador Retriever Pros because it supports our mission to provide best-in-class experiences for our residents while allowing our caregivers to deliver high-touch personal care.”
With the announcement of the reservations for the Retriever Pro, the company also continues to move forward with development and testing of the standard version of the Retriever announced earlier this year.
Labrador Systems’ investors include SOSV/HAX, Amazon’s Alexa Fund, iRobot Ventures, Grep VC and SkyRiver Ventures. Labrador was awarded a National Science Foundation Phase I SBIR Grant in 2021 and a Joseph F. Engelberger Foundation Robotics Grant for Elder Care in 2022.