Nationwide, Labrador Systems partner to pilot new generation of assistive robots
Companies kick off national tour exploring how to empower individuals to live more independently
One of the nation’s largest insurance and financial protection companies is partnering with an early-stage robotics company with a shared vision of helping people remain independent at home as they age or face short term and long-term health issues.
Columbus-based Nationwide and Southern California-based Labrador Systems announced today a multi-state pilot program that will explore the capabilities of the Labrador Retriever, a new type of personal robot designed to empower individuals to live more independently as well as provide support to caregivers.
“As a technology-focused mutual with a mission to protect our customers over the course of a 40-to-50-year relationship, Nationwide is actively thinking about how our members’ needs change and how we can help them stay safe,” said Nationwide Chief Innovation and Digital Officer Chetan Kandhari. “We think there is great potential in the assistive robots that Labrador has developed and we are excited to learn how technology like this can serve our members who want to live independently, as well as help their family caregivers who assist them.”
Labrador’s Retriever robot is designed to help people maintain their independence in the home by serving as an extra pair of hands to help move large loads as well as keep smaller items within reach. Featuring advanced 3D vision, obstacle sensors and navigation capabilities, the Retriever is designed to support a variety of users’ needs. The robot can operate either on-demand or on a pre-set schedule by automatically delivering items at a specific time and location. As this video shows, the new technology has been well received by those who have used it.
“Our 2021 pilots demonstrated the deep need for practical help with activities in the home, as the Retriever quickly became a regular part of our users’ daily lives,” said Labrador Systems CEO Mike Dooley. “With Nationwide’s support, we are able to expand our pilot programs to work with multiple organizations across the country and allow more people to experience the Retriever firsthand and provide feedback on their individual needs.”
As the share of America’s population over 65 increases, so too is the market for assistive, home-based care technologies. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2021, 54 million people in the United States were 65 or older. By 2030, the population of those over 65 is expected to increase to 74 million. At the same time, Americans want to stay in their homes as long as possible. A 2021 Nationwide Long-Term Care Consumer Survey found that 88 percent of those surveyed agreed that it is more important than ever to stay at home for long-term care. Additionally, most adults surveyed (69 percent) would prefer to rely on their family in their own home for long-term care if they need it, while two-thirds of adults (66 percent) are worried they will become a burden to their family as they get older.
Nationwide’s innovation team is sponsoring Labrador’s cross-country tour, Kandhari said, to study the use of the Retriever in a variety of use-cases, including senior living communities, post-acute rehab programs and individual homes. Working together to extend the reach and impact of Labrador's pilot programs, Dooley said the two organizations will learn how to better support Americans with a variety of health needs and their families to help them live in their homes as independently as possible.
The tour builds on the momentum of Labrador’s debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January and will kick off its first leg with stops in Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan.