Researchers in the UK are trialling a robot known as ‘Pepper’ in aged care homes. The robot is designed to monitor vital signs in participants and can complete tasks such as making phone calls and analysing missing kitchen items. The humanoid robot is being positively recognised for its potential to help people in assisted living situations and to help alleviate loneliness. Robots such as Pepper are being programmed to take on the role of care workers and are being built to help improve the lives of those in vulnerable situations. The technology could in the future help to take some of the burden off of the health and social service industries.
The experiment has been called the Ambient Assisted Living program and will look to find solutions for vulnerable groups of people whose challenges have been deepened by the current social isolation measures in place. The experiment is currently being conducted in a highly controlled environment, a university facility which has been transformed to look like a normal apartment.
The aim of the experiment is to help researchers find ways to use the technology to help reduce the heavy workloads of care workers. Researchers and care providers are collaborating on the project by participating remotely with the use of the cloud. The experiment is focussing on the use of signal and sensor technology which constantly monitors the health of patients. If a patient is suffering from a health emergency an alert is sent out so that emergency workers or carers can take fast action.
The experiment is being carefully overseen by a panel of ethics experts to help properly assess any risks the technology or experiment might pose to the privacy and safety of participants, so far the response has been overwhelming positive from care workers who see the potential of the technology.