This robot bear nurse lifts patients into their wheelchairs

Giant robot bears are coming for our senior citizens — coming to help them get into their wheelchairs.

It’s called ROBEAR and it was developed by scientists at RIKEN, a Japanese research university, and the Sumitomo Riko manufacturing company.

Weighing in at 308 pounds, ROBEAR is pretty big for a robot. But it’s actually much lighter than its similarly bear-shaped predecessor, RIBA-II, which weighed a whopping 507 pounds (230 kilograms).

Its main purpose: gently lifting patients from their beds with its comforting robot-bear arms. Could someone use ROBEAR to reenact the iconic scene in “The Bodyguard” with a smiling machine in place of Kevin Costner? Of course they could.

Yet this robot has a more noble purpose.

“With its rapidly increasing elderly population, Japan faces an urgent need for new approaches to assist care-giving personnel,” RIKEN said in a press release. “One of the most strenuous tasks for such personnel, carried out an average of 40 times every day, is that of lifting a patient from a bed into a wheelchair, and this is a major cause of lower back pain.”

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