£2m bid to develop 'culturally aware' robots to help care for elderly


Academics are to explore whether "culturally aware" robots could help care for the elderly.

Researchers will examine whether robots can help people take their tablets and offer them companionship.

It is hoped that such robots will relieve pressures in hospitals and care homes.

Professor Irena Papadopoulos, expert in trans-cultural nursing, told the BBC: "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 £2 million project, led by teams from Middlesex University and the University of Bedfordshire, aims to develop culturally aware robots which can assist in caring for the elderly.

The three-year project will involve specialist researchers from all over the world and will expand the capabilities of the Pepper robot, which is made by Softbank Robotics.