Are Robot Caregivers Part of the Future of Care?
By Jane Byrne, care project coordinator, Firstcare.
As technology advances, robots might be able to fill in the gaps when it comes to caring for the elderly in the near future. According to films such as “Robot and Frank,” robots might be used as caregivers in the near future. The films show that robots can carry out activities that humans can do, such as cooking and cleaning. Researchers believe that robots could be a better way of taking care of the elderly who are increasing in number day after day.
Mobile robotic telepresence systems have implemented a social robot that can provide positive social interaction with the elderly. Social robots can be controlled remotely using smartphone apps. The robots have been installed with video screens that allow the relative and social worker to interact with the elderly at any time. The mobile robotic telepresence systems thus enable communication between the elderly patient and other people through a computer screen. However, this type of social robot still requires someone to operate it for it to function.
Systems such as telecare have had their place for years, and we’re now seeing new and improved technologies come through which help to keep our residents safer. The aim is not to remove the human touch, but to increase patients’ overall quality of care, technology can actually increase the time we can spend with each patient, by removing tasks such as monitoring and non-critical tasks.
Developers around the world have been trying to come up with a robotic companion who is programmed with advanced artificial intelligence. This type of intelligence will allow the robot to interact with people without requiring someone to operate it; that is; the robot will be able to interact with people on its own. Examples of these companion robots include Paro and Airo. Other robots have been built to provide a more comprehensive and complex care, such as robots include Pepper and Care-O-Bot.
Paro social robots are used in Australia care homes for therapeutic purposes. The robot usually interacts by moving its wide eyes, head and flippers, or even producing certain sounds in response to certain touches. This type of robot is also used in Europe, parts of Asia and the United States.