By Debbie le Quesne

Archive for the ‘robotic care’ Category

Robots with a human touch . . . will it ever catch on?

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You know the care sector’s in trouble when the media is awash with robot stories.

Apparently they are part of the answer to the care crisis. I’m not convinced, given the time frame in which we need a resolve.

But they are being developed “with cultural awareness” and a good bedside manner, academics say.

An international team is working on a £2m project to develop robots to help look after older people in care homes or sheltered accommodation.

They will offer support with everyday tasks, like taking tablets, as well as offering companionship. I get that.

Researchers from Middlesex University and the University of Bedfordshire will assist in building personal social robots, known as Pepper Robots, which can be pre-programmed to suit the person they are helping.

These “culturally sensitive” robots will be developed within three years, I read.

Prof Irena Papadopoulos, expert in trans-cultural nursing, was reported as saying: “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.

“Assistive, 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.

“It is not a question of replacing human support but enhancing and complementing existing care.”

Here’s the rub . . . not designed to replace human support.

I don’t doubt they could be of use, but no matter how well they are programmed to be culturally aware, they will never replace the bond that can exist between carers and those for whom they care.

Pepper Robots are already used in thousands of homes in Japan.

So here’s the future: The robots will communicate through speech and with gestures, be able to move independently and pick up signs the elderly person is unwell or in pain.

Can’t really see my old Aunt Hilda asking her robot for a not-too-milky tea, with the tiniest amount of sugar, served in her favourite porcelain tea cup, can you?



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