- Researchers are in the process of developing culturally aware robots to ease pressures in hospitals and care homes.
- Pepper robot could assist the elderly in taking medications and offer them companionship.
- Pepper robot, which is made by Softbank Robotics is already used in two Belgian hospitals.
Culturally aware robots could help care for the elderly, assisting them in taking their medications and offering them companionship.
Researchers have been awarded £2 million ($2.5 million) in funding to develop the bots over the next three years. The project will be led by teams from Middlesex University and the University of Bedfordshire.
‘Pepper Robots communicate through speech and with gestures and are able to pick up signs if the elderly person is unwell or in pain.’
Professor Irena Papadopoulos, an expert in trans-cultural nursing at Middlesex University, told that, as people live longer, health systems are put under increasing pressure. In the UK alone, 15,000 people are over 100 years of age and this figure will only increase.
"Assisting, intelligent robots for older people could relieve pressures in hospitals and care homes as well as improving care delivery at home and promoting independent living for the elderly."
Professor Papadopoulos added, "It is not a question of replacing human support but enhancing and complementing existing care."
She added, "We are starting with care homes and with people who are semi-independent living in sheltered housing, but we do believe that in the future the robots would become acceptable for people to have in their own homes."
Pepper, the robot, has already been shown to be useful in a range of social scenarios. The droid landed a job in Pizza Hut locations in Asia, announced a partnership with Honda's robot Asimo and will soon start selling life insurance in Japan.
Two hospitals in Belgium have installed Pepper robots in their receptions for trials to accompany visitors to the department they're looking for.