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This paper describes the approach followed in the design of a service robot for health care applications. Under the auspices of the NASA Technology Transfer Program, a partnership was established between JPL and RWI, a manufacturer of mobile robots, to design and evaluate a mobile robot for health care assistance to the elderly and the handicapped. The activities of the first phase of the project include the development of a multi-modal operator interface, and the design and fabrication of a manipulator arm for the mobile robot. This paper describes the architecture of the system, the features of the manipulator arm, and the operator interface