For the past three years, a European team of universities, research institutes, commercial companies and care organisations has been working on a new type of social carer – a robot companion for older adults.
Integrated with smart garments and vision systems, the robot reminds its charges about eating, drinking and medications, offers structure throughout the day and helps people to stay active by suggesting a variety of activities.
Developed by French company Robosoft, the personal robot employs sophisticated algorithms that control navigation, obstacle avoidance, person detection, human-robot interactions, and actual services such as reminders, suggestions and encouragements on a physical, cognitive and social level.
Here’s where it gets really clever: should one of its elderly charges not drink anything for a certain time, posing the risk of dehydration, the robot will approach the person and encourage them to drink, or even suggest a specific drink based on their preferences or needs. The same holds for food, physical activities and even social contact: should a person not communicate with anyone for a while, the robot will suggest that he makes a call or visits someone, thereby tackling the risk of social isolation.
The robot also keeps an eye on vital signs and sleeping patterns, and it can detect a fall. In the case of an emergency, it will automatically contact a human carer.