By Debbie le Quesne

Robots (again) and the challenge to help the care sector

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I see robotic care development is moving up a gear with the announcement of the Social Care Robot Challenge 2017.

Billed as a “national cooperative venture”, its aim is to pool knowledge from UK experts in social care robotics from both education and industry. The goal: To advance our knowledge of how robots can be integrated into the healthcare services of the future. Hmmm . . .

Both Bristol Robotics Lab and Sheffield University are already heavily promoting the venture that will, according to the blurb, “address the predicted steeply rising costs and strain of healthcare provision and services in the UK.”

Sorry guys, I think it will take more than robotic technology to get us out of the social care mess.

The robot connection to caring is not new, but this fresh attempt at harvesting intelligence to move to the next level is another indicator that the care sector needs help. I’m not a geek, but I do embrace technology. However, I do believe not interavtive care robot can substitute human kindness . . . or a decision to release the Government purse strings.

There’s talk of “a motivation to create an architecture for social cognition in care robotics.” I think that means developing robots that store information and can apply it socially in a caring environment. If I’m wrong, will someone please tell me, please.

Robotics Week, 24-30th June 2017 will be a must for geeks and the Social Care Challenge will be a centerpiece.

Research issues to be addressed from a robot social cognition perspective could include one or more of the following:


  • Assisted mobility
  • Personal hygiene
  • Social support
  • Preventative and rehabilitation monitoring
  • Remote assistance
  • Food preparation


My mind boggles, but we all must be grateful if ultimately this technology is the lifeline the care sector so desperately requires. Can someone please tell me why I can’t get the thought of Star Wars’ R2D2 out of my head?

Sorry, I don’t wish to trivialise, but we do need a much quicker solution to the care meltdown than what I believe robotic development can deliver.

Written by debbielq

January 17, 2017 at 8:33 am

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