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Project aims to develop social care robot for older people

Academics are to explore whether 'culturally aware' robots could help care for older people in future.

Academics are to explore whether 'culturally aware' robots could help care for older people in future

Soft bank robotics

Middlesex University and the University of Bedfordshire are collaborating on a programme to develop a human-shaped robot to assist in social care for older people. 

Researchers are looking to expand the capabilities of the Pepper robot, which was created by the Softbank Robotics company. 

Recognising emotions

Pepper can speak, move autonomously and recognise a human’s face and speech. It is also able to recognise emotions such as joy, sadness, anger or surprise  and is already used in homes in Japan.

Middlesex University professor of transcultural health and nursing Irena Papadopoulos is working to ensure the robot can adapt to cultural sensitivities and the preferences of older people.

She said: ‘Assistive, intelligent robots for older people could relieve pressures in hospital and care homes as well as improving care delivery at home and promoting independent living for the elderly.

‘In order for robots to be more acceptable to older people it is essential that they can be programmed to adapt to diverse backgrounds and this is where my expertise in transcultural nursing comes in. 

‘Care robots that are culturally-aware are likely to meet with greater acceptance from both the older people and their carers.’

Further testing

The Bedfordshire team will test and evaluate how the robot affects the health and wellbeing of care home residents. 

The project is jointly funded by the European Union and the Japanese government. 

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