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An Irish robot called Stevie made the cover of Time magazine

The robot was built and designed in Trinity College Dublin. / YouTube

A ROBOT DESIGNED by a Trinity College Dublin team has been profiled on the cover of Time magazine. 

The robot, named Stevie, is part of a project examining the role artificial intelligence could play in the treatment and care of the elderly into the future. 

The magazine covered the robot’s pilot in a residential community in Washington. 

It’s no small feat to craft a technological fix for this problem that is cost-effective, supports human care workers without taking their jobs, and reliably attends to the social, emotional, and physical needs of aging people in a way that respects their dignity and privacy. 

Conor McGinn, the lead engineer and an assistant professor in Trinity, said that the magazine was “quite interested to come out and see what it’s all about”. 

“They were there for eight hours a day, kind of a fly on the wall.”

McGinn admitted that it sounded unlikely that a group from Ireland had produced a robot that had captured the imagination of one of the world’s most iconic magazines. 

Online, the headline of the story reads: “Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A robot and a team of Irish scientists walk into a senior living home.”

“It’s great. It seems improbable that there is a small team of Irish researchers tackling such a big issue,” says McGinn. 

McGinn praised the dedication of the engineers who produced the robot, noting that many could have left Ireland, a country not well-known for this kind of technological innovation. 

“They have chosen to stay here and work on this,” he said. 

The next step will be trying to mass-produce these robots and get them onto the market. But that prospect will take time, resources and funding. 

“We’re building state of the art mobile robots. These things aren’t cheap,” says McGinn.

Both he and his team would like to expand and commercialise their work in Ireland, but he said that neither Ireland or Europe have traditionally had an “appetite” for investing in technology hardware startups. 

He hopes that the coverage in Time, which has had everyone from Barack Obama to Leo Varadkar and Steve Jobs on the cover, will boost the profile of the team and lead to new funding opportunities. 

“It’s a good story but it’s a step,” he said. 

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