Middlesex University and the University of Bedfordshire are to work together on a €2.5m international three-year research project to help develop the world’s first robots able to respond to the needs and preferences of elderly clients.
Irena Papadopoulos, professor of transcultural health and nursing at Middlesex University, said: Prof Irena Papadopoulos, expert in trans-cultural nursing, said: “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.”
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.”
The project will expand on the capabilities of the Pepper robot, which was designed with the ability to read emotions.
Dr Chris Papadopoulos, a principal lecturer in public health from the University of Bedfordshire, explained: ‘The project is truly ground-breaking. Building culturally aware Pepper robots that can autonomously reconfigure their interactions to match the culture, customs and etiquette of the person they’re caring for, means that they are more likely to be accepted by elderly clients.’